How Do You Know If You Need a Root Canal?

For most people, going to the dentist means a routine cleaning, or perhaps some x-rays to check on the health of their teeth.  However, for others, their oral health requires more in-depth analysis and treatment.  Many people annually undergo the infamous root canal, and it is important that you understand and spot the symptoms precipitating a root canal before your oral health worsens.  

Your tooth's structure

Before evaluating whether or not you need a root canal, you have to understand a little bit about the structure of your teeth.  Your teeth are alive and connected to the rest of your body.  While the exterior is hard enough to chew the majority of the foods you eat, the inside is soft and full of blood.  The tooth receives the blood, lymphatic fluid, and nutrients from the gums through the root canals, and each tooth has at least one of these canals to keep it functioning properly.

Infections of the root canal

The root canal can become infected if a tooth becomes diseased or is injured. Unfortunately, once this happens, the tooth is never able to heal completely because the root is inaccessible to antibiotics and other treatment options.
For most people, it is pretty obvious that they have an infection. As blood flow to the area increases, the patient usually notices a warm feeling or pressure. This can turn into a throbbing pain and an increased sensitivity to heat, cold, and the pressure of chewing. However, you cannot always rely on the symptoms alone to decide whether or not you need a root canal. Some patients’ roots become infected or die with no symptoms, and others could have similar symptoms and an unrelated problem (such as an impacted wisdom tooth). Only a dentist can properly diagnose your need for a root canal through a thorough examination and x-rays.

Root canal infections and treatments

If you develop an infection of the root canal and do not get it treated promptly, you could find yourself in extreme pain. With time, the infection can spread into the tooth, killing it. Once a tooth dies, it and the surrounding gum tissue begin to decay, and the tooth will fall out. Missing teeth can lead to numerous health problems of their own, including a difficulty with eating, shifting of the remaining teeth leading to an improper bite, and other oral hygiene problems. Because of this, it is important to visit your dentist if you suspect an infection or other dental problem.
If your dentist determines that you have an infection of the root canal, there are generally three options that you can pursue in regards to treatment.  Some patients opt for a root canal surgery, which can help preserve the tooth and keep it from falling out. Since the tooth is dead, it will be capped to prevent further infection and/or gum loss. However, there is always a risk of re-infection, especially if the patient does not follow good oral hygiene.
A second option is to have the tooth surgically extracted entirely. While this can prevent future infection, the patient will have to replace the missing tooth with a crown and bridge, denture, or dental implant. A third option involves regenerative treatments. In some cases, if the infection is caught early enough, these treatments can restore the life of the tooth.
If you are having dental problems and suspect that a root canal may be in your future, the best thing you can do is make an appointment with your dentist. The sooner you get the problem treated, the less likely you will develop further dental problems associated with it.

Dentists in Beverly Hills, CA

Dr. Kevin B. Sands, D.D.S.

Dr. Kevin B. Sands specializes in cosmetic dentistry, taking pride in offering the finest in patient care and services to each and every patient. He is determined to give you the smile you deserve! In fact, some of the most beautiful smiles in Hollywood have come through our doors. Dr. Kevin B. Sands has trained with some of the worlds most prominent cosmetic dental specialists. He is rapidly becoming known Beverly Hills leading cosmetic dentist for people ...