Oral & Vision Health Blog

What is a Root Canal and How is it Treated?

Is your tooth throbbing? Is it sensitive to hot and/or cold foods and drinks? Is this the same tooth your dentist or dental hygienist has been keeping an eye on? If so, you may need a root canal.

When some people think of a root canal, or even the word “dentist,” they may become overwhelmed with panic or anxiety. “Root canal” is a powerful combination of words that carries with it the suggestion of a scary, invasive procedure. To help alleviate any concerns about the idea of a root canal, we will go through the symptoms of and treatments for a tooth that needs this procedure.

If a tooth continues to zing in pain as time progresses, you should seek the opinion of a dental professional to find the source of the pain.

What causes tooth and mouth pain?

Tooth pain is usually attributed to the nerve. Cavities themselves do not always cause a person pain. That is unless the tooth decay reaches the part of the tooth where the nerves reside. Some common problems leading to tooth or mouth pain include the following:

  • Mouth sore: They can be caused by one of several issues. These include a highly acidic diet, irritation from braces or other orthodontic devices, using tobacco products, Celiac disease, and HPV (human papilloma virus). People who are undergoing cancer treatment may develop mouth sores as well.
  • Abscessed teeth: This is when the gum and root of a tooth develops an infection. It is commonly caused by the decaying of the tooth and other mouth trauma. An abscessed tooth can also be the result of pre-existing gum disease, as well as broken, cracked, or chipped teeth or gingivitis.

If the tooth’s nerve is the source of the pain, then it often signals that the nerve is inflamed or dying. If the nerve is not the problem, it could be reacting to tooth decay reaching and impacting the tooth’s dental pulp. That is the innermost part of the tooth that hosts blood vessels and the tooth’s nerves.

Trauma could be from tooth decay, outside forces impacting the face or recurring treatment to any tooth including fillings. Whenever there is trauma to the dental pulp, you are directly at risk of bacteria-related illnesses.

Who should I see and when should I be treated?

Endodontists are known as specialists in performing root canals and saving teeth. It is highly recommended that you seek professional care whenever you start noticing the following symptoms:

  • Unbearable pain from chewing and mouth pressure
  • Irritating sensations from hot or cold temperatures
  • Change in a singular tooth’s color, especially if it starts to look darker.
  • Never-ending or recurring blistering to the gums, usually near the impacted tooth


What happens during and after the root canal?

A root canal involves scraping out the inner part of the tooth. Then it is repacked with enamel-like material, and the edges are sealed to help prevent future tooth decay.

A common fear about root canals is that you will lose the tooth. While waiting too long can result in tooth loss, advances in endodontics are making it possible to save teeth. The nerves inside the tooth will be removed. However, the tooth will be able to function as normal. When endodontic treatment is not effective, surgery may be able to save the tooth.

It is common for people to get anxious about root canals. It does involve the endodontist scraping the dental pulp area. With the right techniques and equipment your dentist will work to make you as comfortable as possible.

If you want to learn more about root canals and how they differ from tooth extraction, check out this article.


Disclaimer: This information is provided for educational and informational purposes only and does not constitute providing medical advice or professional services. The information provided should not be used for diagnosing or treating a health problem or disease, and those seeking medical advice should consult with a licensed physician


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