Many people cringe when they hear the words "root canal," but the truth is that the procedure is painless and can prevent you from losing a tooth. Our Saginaw, MI, dentist, Dr. Gregory Herzler, discusses root canal therapy and shares a few signs may mean that you may need the procedure.
What is a root canal?
A collection of tissue, blood vessels and nerves known as pulp fill the center of every tooth and extend into root canals, small pathways in teeth that travel from the top of your teeth to the roots. Root canal therapy is performed when a nerve dies, or the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. Without the treatment, you'll eventually lose your tooth.
If you've ever had a filling, you have a general idea how the root canal process works. The therapy involves opening the tooth, removing the infected or inflamed pulp, cleaning the center of the tooth and the root canals and shaping the canals with small files. After the pulp is removed and the tooth is cleaned, a temporary filling is added. The temporary filling will be replaced with a permanent filling in our Saginaw office a week or two later. In most cases, crowns are also needed to help stabilize treated teeth.
How can I tell if I need a root canal?
Unless you have X-ray vision, you may not be able to tell that you need a root canal, but you will know that something is wrong with your tooth. Common signs of inflammation or infection include:
- Pain: Constant pain can occur if you need a root canal, but pain that comes and go is just as troubling. Does your pain start or worsen when you take a bite of food or drink or eat something hot or cold? Those symptoms may indicate a problem with your tooth pulp.
- Red Gums: Your gums may be irritated, red and swollen if you need a root canal.
- Change in Tooth Color: Although teeth can gradually become duller due to dental stains, one tooth shouldn't be noticeably darker than the others.
- Abscess Symptoms: An abscess can cause severe or throbbing pain, pus or a pimple on your gum, a fever and swollen lymph nodes. Abscesses are dental emergencies. If you don't receive prompt treatment, the bacteria that caused your symptoms can spread throughout your body.
Protect your smile with root canal therapy. Schedule an appointment with our Saginaw, MI, dentist, Dr. Herzler, at (989) 793-7733 if you notice any of these signs.