There are toothaches and then there are toothaches. Sometimes, the ache is because you have something wedged between two teeth. In this case, a good flossing may be the cure. However, when a toothache is severe enough to keep you up at night, then there may be an infection deep inside the tooth. For this there is root canal therapy. Read on to learn more about how tooth infection develops and how a root canal can preserve your tooth.
Millions of bacteria call your mouth home. Normally, the hard enamel and dentin layers of a tooth prevent the bacteria from accessing the interior pulp chamber and root canals that house the nerve. However, when you have an untreated cavity or a penetrating crack in a tooth, bacteria can migrate to the chamber. When this happens, infection eventually sets in.
Unfortunately, the leading indicator of an infected tooth is severe pain. As infection grows within the confines of a tooth, the inflammation usually causes unbearable pain. Of course, this can all be avoided if you attend regular checkups where your dentist can address any tooth decay or a crack before there is infection.
Other signs of an infected tooth are:
The first thing Dr. Cea is concerned about is your comfort and safety. So, if you are feeling a bit anxious about having a root canal, we offer conscious sedation. While you sit back and calmly relax, the dentist and his team will go to work.
The procedure begins with a local anesthetic for the tooth and surrounding tissue. Then, Dr. Cea accesses the pulp chamber and root canals through a small hole. Using special instruments, the infected portion of the tooth is removed. Then, the space is disinfected and filled with gutta-percha, a biocompatible substance that expands to fill the chamber and root canals. This supports the remaining tooth structure and prevents recontamination. Finally, the tooth is sealed and prepared for a porcelain crown that will protect your tooth.
The entire process usually takes no more than an hour. If you’ve had sedation, you’ll be allowed to remain in the dentist’s chair until you feel strong enough to walk. A friend or relative will need to drive you home.
The tooth may be sensitive for the first few days. Try to chew on the opposite side of your mouth. If necessary, an over-the-counter pain reliever can be taken for discomfort.