Your tooth is composed of multiple layers: enamel, dentin, and a soft pulp core that contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. If decay passes through these layers and into the soft pulp, inflammation or infection can occur. Once the soft pulp is infected, the best way to remove the infection and keep your tooth intact is through a root canal. What happens during a root canal?

  1. Your dentist will remove decay and bacteria from the pulp, nerve, and root of your tooth
  2. Once cleaned, the area will be disinfected to protect against further infection
  3. The empty root will be filled and sealed to prevent additional decay

A root canal may sound painful, but the majority of patients remain comfortable throughout their treatment, with many experiencing only mild sensitivity in their tooth for a few days afterward. Today, getting a root canal is similar to a routine filling. Your dentist will also give you local anesthesia on your tooth and your gums to keep you comfortable and pain-free during your root canal treatment. You may need to modify your eating and drinking for a few days after your root canal, but your mouth should feel completely back to normal within a week.

Once you have had a root canal, your tooth will be more fragile and susceptible to breakage. As a result, many patients will also get a crown over their tooth as a means to shield against chips, cracks, and fractures. Signs that you may need a root canal include:

  • Tooth Discoloration – If the soft pulp of your tooth is infected, it may cause your tooth to develop a grayish-black color.
  • Sensitivity – Is your tooth suddenly sensitive to hot and cold temperatures? Whether it’s a dull ache or a sharp pain, this could be a sign of infection in your soft pulp.
  • Looseness – An infected tooth could feel loose; this is often a symptom of weakened or dead nerves within the soft pulp.
  • Ongoing Pain – Persistent pain could be the result of gum disease, a cavity, an impacted tooth, or any number of oral health concerns. But if you are experiencing prolonged tooth pain, this is a good time to see if you may need a root canal.

Do you think you might need a root canal? Reach out to Holcomb & Associates today to make an appointment for your next dental exam.