Your dental health is of vital importance; looking after the inside of your mouth should be a priority, otherwise you may experience hasslesome and serious health complications later in life.
Many of us may experience tooth pain or discomfort at some point in our lives, but how do you know whether the discomfort in question is more malign than you perhaps first considered? Could it actually be the case that you need to undergo a root canal procedure?
If you suspect that you have a more serious dental issue that if left untreated will damage your mouth and your health, check the below signs and symptoms to identify whether you have root canal disease, and what to do next.
What is root canal disease?
Root canal disease is when a tooth becomes so badly infected that the “pulp” (the “soft area” at the centre of the tooth that is made up of blood vessels, nerves and connective tissues) starts to rot and decay. The rot then travels from the top of the tooth into the “legs” or “root” of the tooth, and this is what causes the sufferer pain and discomfort.
Root canal therapy is when the “pulp chamber” is cleaned and the rotting pulp and nerve is removed, therefore eliminating the pain. Removing the nerve from the tooth is not actually damaging, as its only real function is to identify between hot and cold.
If left untreated, a badly infected tooth could cause a number of serious dental issues, some of which are irreversible. For instance, an infected tooth can, without attention, turn into an abscess or could cause swelling and pain in the face, head and neck. A decaying tooth can also cause irreparable damage to the bones and gums around the teeth.
5 warning signs that could mean you need root canal therapy
Identifying the symptoms of a badly infected tooth is paramount; the earlier you spot the signs, the easier and less painful the healing process will be.
If you are experiencing tooth ache or pain, check your symptoms against the 5 below to determine whether or not you may need a root canal.
Tooth pain or sensitivity -
If you are experiencing tooth pain, sensitivity or discomfort that persists or worsens, it could be a sign of tooth decay. Seek professional advice as soon as possible to limit the damage.
Swelling around the tooth or abscesses -
Take note of any swelling that occurs in your mouth, as it could indicate that you have a nasty infection. If you have any abscesses in your mouth it is crucial that you get professional attention as soon as possible, as if untreated it can cause greater pain and swelling in your face, neck and head.
Discolouration or damage to the exterior of the tooth -
If you notice any cracks, chips or suspicious discolouration to a tooth - especially if it has blackened - you can be sure that you need to visit a dental professional. It could be a sign of decay or that your tooth has become severed from its blood supply at the root and needs closer inspection.
What is a root canal procedure?
If you are experiencing tooth pain, swelling around the tooth, tooth sensitivity, discolouration of the tooth or any of the symptoms listed above, you should visit your dental practitioner immediately. Through an X-ray scan they will be able to determine the severity of the infection and advise on how best to treat it. In many cases, the treatment necessary is root canal therapy.
During a root canal procedure, local anesthesia is administered to the infected too to relieve the sufferer from any further pain. Then, an incision will be made in the tooth and the infected pulp that is causing the pain or discolouration is sucked out. This is known as pulpectomy. Once the infected pulp is removed in its entirety, the tooth is then filled with a cement-like material called gutta percha to ensure that it does not become infected again later down the line. To finish, a crown may be fitted on top of the tooth for greater protection.
It must be noted that the root canal procedure is not considered to be overly painful, due to the local anaesthesia being administered. In fact, the pain caused by the infected tooth, before the procedure has taken place, that causes the sufferer the most pain and discomfort.
What causes the need for a root canal?
Damaged or infected teeth can occur for a number of reasons. The main two that you should take note of are:
Bad dental hygiene -
Bad dental hygiene is the number one cause for most dental complications. It is crucial that a person thoroughly brushes their teeth twice daily and flosses regularly to ensure there is not a buildup of plaque that can cause rot and decay. Regular checkups at the dentist are also highly advised.
Trauma to the tooth is another reason why an individual may find themselves needing root canal treatment. Through accident or injury, a person’s tooth may become severed from its blood supply and the pulp can “die”. This can result in a “dead” tooth that loses some or all of its colour. However, this does not mean that sufferer will experience tooth pain, and actually a root canal may not be urgent, as a “dead” tooth can still live inside of a mouth for years and years without the pulp becoming infected. Eventually, though, a person with a “dead” tooth may need to pay for a Pulpectomy to avoid infection.
Root canal disease can be a very uncomfortable and painful for the sufferer, and without treatment it can develop into something more troublesome. When it comes to root canal disease, prevention is key. By practising impeccable dental hygiene and seeking professional help as soon as you notice anything unusual in your mouth, you can ensure your mouth remains healthy.