Do you have a toothache? Did you wake up with a swollen jaw? Are you experiencing radiating pain near your ear? If so, you could have an infected tooth. This occurs when bacteria enter the pulp chamber of a tooth. When this happens, there are only two treatment options: root canal treatment or an extraction. Root canal treatment involves removing the pulp, including nerves and blood vessels, from inside the tooth. At our Luck Dentist office, Dr. Conder performs root canal treatment to eliminate infection and preserve the oral health of our patients.
When is Root Canal Therapy Recommended?
Essentially, root canal therapy is necessary any time a bacterial invasion of the pulp occurs. This may be the result of decay, trauma, or a damaged restoration, among other things.
When the tooth pulp becomes damaged, bacteria begin to populate. This can eventually lead to a dental abscess, or an infected tooth. An abscess is characterized by a pocket of pus that forms around the very end of the root. If left untreated, this infection can spread to other areas of the face, neck, or head. It can also cause the bone around the tooth root to erode.
Are There Any Recognizable Symptoms?
In some cases, there are no warning signs to indicate an infected tooth or abscess. However, patients may notice:
- Severe toothache or dental pain, especially when pressure is placed on the area
- Darkening or discoloration of the affected tooth
- Tenderness or inflammation in the area
- Prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold
- A fistula, or pimple, that appears on the gums near the affected tooth
Root Canal Treatment Process
Root canal treatment can generally be completed in two office visits:
- First appointment: To begin treatment, Dr. Conder numbs the affected tooth with local anesthesia. This will keep you comfortable while he is working. Next, a small hole is made in the top of the tooth so the pulp can be accessed. The nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue inside the tooth are removed, and the surfaces are scrubbed clean and disinfected. Finally, the pulp chamber and canals are filled and the tooth is sealed to reduce the risk of recontamination. A temporary filling or crown will be placed to protect the tooth until your next visit.
- Second appointment: During your second visit, Dr. Conder will place the final restoration. While a filling may be sufficient in some instances, a dental crown is often necessary to reinforce the affected tooth and restore your bite. Once this step is complete, you will be able to use your tooth normally.
What Should I Expect After Treatment?
A common misconception about root canal therapy is that it’s painful. On the contrary, the procedure removes the very source of infection and discomfort. For this reason, most patients feel substantial relief following the procedure, especially if the pain was severe before treatment.
It’s normal for the gums around the treated tooth to feel tender or sore for a few days. However, this discomfort can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers. After your root canal treatment, Dr. Conder will provide you with a list of detailed post-surgical instructions. These should be followed closely for a successful and comfortable recovery.