Early Warning Signs That You Need Root-Canal Treatment
You may have heard your dentist mention the term "root-canal treatment". These three words can strike terror into the heart of patients, but how do you know whether you're showing signs of needing root-canal treatment? Read on to find out more.
What is root-canal treatment?
Your teeth contain living tissue called pulp. If left untreated, tooth decay can extend into the pulp where an infection is triggered, eventually killing the pulp. Sometimes, trauma to the tooth can cause the pulp to die too.
The death of the pulp and the nerve that supplies the tooth can cause horrendous pain. The pain often vanishes quite quickly, although the infection inside the tooth remains. Under these circumstances, you'll need root-canal treatment to get rid of the infection and save your tooth.
Root-canal treatment involves the removal of the pulp and the nerve from the tooth, leaving a "shell" of tooth enamel that can be filled or crowned, leaving you with a pain-free, natural-looking tooth.
Signs that you may need root-canal treatment
If you have lots of fillings already, and your teeth are in poor condition, you could find yourself vulnerable to pulp infection. It's really important that you attend your dentist for regular cleaning and check-ups to keep your teeth and mouth in good order to reduce the risk that root-canal treatment might be required.
A tell-tale sign of pulp or root infection is excruciating, acute pain. The pain will come on rapidly and is caused by the inflammation within the tooth and its nerves. Because the pain is inflammatory in nature, taking over-the-counter medication such as ibuprofen should relieve it.
You will probably find that the discomfort disappears within a few days, but it's important to realise that the pain you have been experiencing is a symptom of a problem rather than the problem itself. The remaining infection will continue to make stealthy progress down the tooth root and into the bone. You will then begin to feel slight discomfort when biting on that tooth.
The infection will spread to the periodontal ligaments around the tooth and into the membrane that fixes the tooth to the jaw bone. Eventually, an abscess will form, leaving you in chronic pain that can't be relieved with standard pain killers.
If you're experiencing the symptoms outlined above, it could be time to ask your dentist about root-canal treatment to save your tooth. Once the infected tissue has been removed, you will no longer be at risk of further pain or abscesses. You can have the tooth filled and crowned, and your tooth will be safe.