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Do I Need a Root Canal?

Posted on June 8, 2017 by Kochevar Endo

Are you having unanswered tooth pain? You might be asking yourself “Do I need a root canal?”. Sometimes it can be difficult to determine if the pain you are experiencing requires a root canal or if it is simply another toothache or cavity. At Kochevar Endodontics, we are happy to answer any questions you might have, and help you determine if you need to come in for a root canal procedure. You can also take this quiz to help you decide if you need to schedule an appointment!

What is a Root Canal?

Inside the tooth, under the layers, is a soft tissue called pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. When the pulp of the tooth becomes infected or inflamed, a root canal is performed to clean this area. The pulp can become inflamed in several ways, including dental caries that penetrate through the enamel to reach the pulp, or it may be a result of trauma, such as physical abuse of the tooth or thermal insults. Other ways can be from overheating by insufficiently cooled dental drills and use of dental curing lights. More often it is from physical trauma rather than dental treatments.

To take care of this problem the endodontist will perform the following procedure:

  • Step 1: The endodontist examines and x-rays the tooth, then administers local anesthetic. The endodontist places a “dental dam” inside the mouth to isolate the tooth and keep it clean and free of saliva during the procedure.
  • Step 2: The endodontist makes an opening in the crown of the tooth. Instruments are used to clean the pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals, then used to shape the space for filling.
  • Step 3: The endodontist fills the root canals with a rubber-like material called “gutta-percha.” The gutta-percha is placed with an adhesive cement to ensure complete sealing of the root canals. The temporary filling will be removed by your dentist before the tooth is restored.
  • Step 4: After the final visit with your endodontist, you must return to your dentist to have a crown or other restoration placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function.

How Do I Know If I Need a Root Canal?

Now that you know what to expect in a root canal treatment, you need to make sure it’s the right procedure for your situation.

Do some simple tests to see if you have any of the symptoms that require a root canal.

Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Severe tooth pain when eating or putting pressure on the area
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold that lingers after stimuli has been removed
  • A pimple-like bump (white, yellow, or red) appears on the gum near the pain
  • General darkening of the tooth
  • Tenderness or swelling of the gums near the area of teeth pain

First, ask yourself if you have experienced any trauma, or know of any decay in your tooth.

You can do a simple check to see if you have experienced any trauma. This can be from hitting your head on something which causes you to bite down too hard on your teeth or from getting hit in the mouth during sports or other activities. Decay can look like discoloration on the tooth, though this is harder to see as sometimes it will be inside the tooth which is not visible from the outside.

Visit your dentist to figure out what’s wrong.

By visiting a dentist you can be sure of what’s going on with your tooth. They will be able to perform x-rays to see the inside of the tooth as well as properly diagnose for your situation. They will also be able to direct you to a qualified and professional endodontist.

We always hope that no one ever needs to get a root canal, but if you determine that you are in need of a root canal, you can call us to schedule your consultation at (801) 282-1651. We are located in South Jordan, Utah and we are always happy to help in an emergency, so don’t hesitate to call.

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