Endodontic therapy, or a root canal, is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or infected. When the nerve of the tooth becomes infected or the “pulp” of your tooth becomes damaged, your dentist removes the diseased tissue from inside the tooth. The narrow channels inside the tooth are hollowed out and cleaned, and the roots are filled with materials that prevent your tooth from getting infected again.
Here are warning signs that you might need one:
- if you have pain when biting down
- if you have pain that lingers for more than ten seconds
- if you have pain for no specific reason
- if you have severe pain due to heat or cold
- tooth discoloration (dark grey, yellow or black)
- swelling and irritation in the gums around the affected tooth
The level of pain you experience can range from very slight to extreme. It might be so intense that it wakes you up from a sound sleep. Your tooth may “throb” like it has its own heartbeat, and the way you experience the pain may change when you change your posture, such as when you stand up or sit down. In some cases, teeth that require endodontic therapy don’t cause pain, but to the trained eye, subtle hints can be an obvious sign that a problem exists. That’s why it’s best to have regular check-ups to avoid problems before they become emergencies. Your dentist can determine if endodontic therapy is required.
Swelling of the gums doesn’t occur in every case, and it can look mostly normal, but be a little tender, or the swelling can be more pronounced. Either you have a lump that you can feel or there’s a region that’s noticeably fuller. When the swelling is caused by infected nerve tissue that requires endodontic therapy, it’s usually centered away from the line where the tooth and the gums meet, at the tooth’s root tip.
The pain and swelling symptoms may be transient, meaning they come and go on a day-to-day or even month-to-month basis, or they may be persistent, and never completely disappear. If you have a tooth that’s displaying any of these symptoms, contact your Mesa dentist right away. Doing so may make a big difference in the type of treatment required and how much it costs.