Suffering With A Bad Toothache? Here's What To Know If You Need A Root Canal Done

Not all toothaches can be treated with a simple filling. When you have an infection in your tooth that spreads into the pulp or root, then your dentist will probably have to do a root canal to save the tooth. This is done in addition to repairing the decayed enamel with a filling or crown. Here's what you need to know about having a root canal.

Why A Root Canal Is Necessary

If the pulp of your tooth is infected, your dentist will remove the diseased tissue by drilling a hole in your tooth and scraping it out. The pulp of your tooth is right under the enamel and runs down the two canals within the roots that contain nerves. These roots attach to your jawbone, and if your infection is bad enough, it can spread from the pulp in your tooth to the bone, gums and other teeth. That's why your dentist recommends removing the infection, even if you also take antibiotics. It's important to remove diseased tissue to keep the infection from spreading. The alternative is to remove your entire tooth, which pulls up the tooth and roots too.

How A Root Canal Is Done

Your dentist removes infected tissue through a tunnel drilled into your tooth. The tooth is scraped and flushed to get rid of the decay. Your dentist may also insert an antibiotic plug into the tunnel to fight the infection. Your tooth may be sealed the same day, or your dentist may put a temporary cap on it and have you return to complete the procedure at a later date. This way the dentist can check on the progress of the infection to make sure it is cleared up before permanently sealing the tooth.

Even though the root canal procedure has a bad reputation for being painful, you'll receive an anesthetic, so you shouldn't feel much pain during the actual procedure. The toothache leading up to the dental work is the most painful thing to endure. Once you've had the procedure and have a filling or crown put on top of your tooth, you should be free from any additional pain.

A Crown Is Often Needed

If you need a root canal, there is also a good chance you'll need a crown. That's because it's likely you have a lot of decay in your tooth enamel if you have an abscessed tooth. When cavities are large, it isn't possible to fill them because there isn't enough healthy tooth to hold the filling in place. Instead, the dentist places a crown on top of your tooth. A crown looks very natural, and it is strong enough to chew and bite, so you can eat normally with it. Your dentist may put on a temporary crown right after you have a root canal. The permanent one will be custom made in a dental lab and placed on your tooth during a later visit.

When you have a toothache, it isn't always possible to know if you'll only need a simple filling or if you'll need a root canal. That's why you shouldn't delay going to the dentist for treatment. By filling your tooth while the cavity is small, you may be able to avoid an abscess and the need for a costly root canal and crown in order to save your tooth. However, if you have swelling around the tooth or notice a discharge, then you can be fairly certain you have an abscessed tooth and need to be seen by your dentist right away.

For more information, contact a dentist like Tony Parsley, DMD.