If you have found out that you have a tooth infection or gum infection, you can find relief by having a root canal treatment. It helps drain the infection and gives a way for any antibiotics to do their job. Then your teeth and gums can be returned to health, pain-free.
What is a Root Canal Infection?
You may wonder what is a root canal infection? Your tooth has several components. The outside is the enamel. Under your enamel is the dentin layer of the tooth, and under that is the main core of your tooth where the root canal is. This goes into the tooth root itself. The root canal has your dental pulp – a mix of connective tissue, nerves, and blood vessels. Then surrounding your tooth is all the tissue of your jaws and gums. It is in these areas that a root canal infection occurs.
Tooth decay and gum infections can happen for a variety of reasons, which we will look at in more detail in a few moments. If the infection is in your gums, you should take it seriously as the infection can spread into the bloodstream and go elsewhere in the body.
When that decay gets past the enamel and dentin and into the root canal, that dental pulp can get infected. If it does, it can be inflamed, and this is what the root canal treatment is designed to treat.
If you have a pocket of infection at the bottom of the tooth root in the surrounding tissue, you have a dental abscess. This can cause swelling and, if left untreated, can even lead to bone loss due to the fact the infection can spread. You may also find that the infection eats through the gum tissue and then starts to drain that way.
What is a root canal procedure?
A root canal procedure, commonly known as a root canal, is a way of treating a tooth that is suffering from a root canal infection either inside the tooth itself or in the gums under the tooth.
Your dentist or endodontist opens up the tooth to protect, gets all the bacteria and dental decay out of the tooth, cleans it out with either a cleaning solution or an antibiotic, or both. Then the opening gets filled with a substance called Gutta-percha before capping it off with a crown or filling material and preventing any further invasion by food or bacteria.
Why are root canal procedures necessary?
You may have some symptoms that lead you to think you need a root canal treatment. And you are far from alone. The American Association of Endodontists, or AAE, estimates that there are 15 million root canal treatments done every year in just the US, or 41,000 a day across the country. As you can see, it is a very common dental procedure.
There is one urban legend to debunk – that a root canal treatment is painful. Root canals themselves are not that painful – only 17% of patients rate it as a painful experience thanks to modern techniques and anesthesia. The ultimate result is that you are going to be freed from pain and root canal infection.
The good part is, you get to keep your tooth when you have a root canal procedure. It halts any more decay from happening and makes the rest of your mouth healthier.
Your symptoms may vary, depending on the type of infection you have. Only your dentist can determine if you actually need to have a root canal treatment done. But, you should call him or her right away and seek treatment if you experience any of the following:
- Constant pain in one or more teeth or in the jaw bone itself – Your pain may be from an infection in the tooth or from an infection due to gum disease. Or, if it feels more like pressure, it may be from the infection irritating the ligament that holds your tooth.
- Temperature sensitivity – A lot of people have pain when they eat or drink something cold – our nerves react that way often. Think of a brain freeze while eating a milkshake. But hot drinks causing you pain may be a sign something is wrong with the tooth.
- Discolored tooth – If it is not due to staining from things like tea or coffee, or if it is really dark, it may be due to an infection on the inside or trauma that has occurred to the top enamel.
- Swollen gums – If you have swollen gums near a tooth that is giving you pain, you may have an infection in the gums or you may have an acidic waste of the dead pulp that is causing a swelling of the root area. It may also be caused by an abscess in the gums themselves that is filled with pus.
- Broken, chipped, cracked, or loose tooth – Your tooth may be broken due to trauma from sports or from an auto accident, or it may be loose which can cause the nerves in the jaw to be irritated and inflamed. Your tooth may also be loose due to the infection in the gum causing the area to become soft.
Based on your dentist’s advice diagnosis or treatment you may need root canal therapy or you may need a different treatment. If you do have a root canal treatment, you should know that now that your tooth has been repaired, it is not as sturdy as it once was, so you will need to be careful.
How to ward off root canal therapy
You can help your mouth by taking good care of your teeth. Brushing and flossing regularly with a fluoridated toothpaste is a big part of keeping everything clean and healthy. Also, seek medical advice from your dentist when you feel pain, and keep your regular appointments to have your teeth professionally cleaned every six months.
A good diet that is low in acidic and sugary food is also a way to keep your teeth healthy and prevent tooth decay. If you do eat something acidic or sugary, rinse your teeth with plain water after eating to help swish some of the particles away.
Caring for your teeth at home
Your gums may remain swollen after the root canal procedure because they have just suffered a trauma due to the surgery. The nerves and the gum tissue itself will take a while to heal. This should go away in a few days. You can relieve the discomfort by taking the medication your dentist has provided you or by taking some over-the-counter pain relievers.
If you were given a temporary filling on top while your dentist waits for the infection in your tooth or gum to resolve, you should know that it is really meant to be temporary so it is a bit fragile. This should not stop you from brushing your teeth carefully and daily.
Ultimately, if you have a root canal infection, you should know that a root canal treatment will help treat the infection by giving your dentist access to the pockets of infection in the affected tooth and getting them cleaned out and treated. The pus can be drained and the infection can be treated by antibiotics, so your teeth and gums will be happy again and you can have back that great smile.
IVANOV Orthodontic Experts, 12866 Biscayne Blvd, North Miami, FL 33181
Call us at (786) 540-1919 to schedule a free orthodontic exam.
Learn more about What Causes A Shooting Pain After A Root Canal at https://ivanovortho.com/what-causes-a-shooting-pain-after-a-root-canal/