We usually hear the same question when a patient hasn’t had a dental cleaning in a while. “Will I need a root canal?” They’re usually thinking about tooth pain and discomfort they’ve been experiencing that brought them to the dentist. The real question they’re almost always asking, though, is “can I avoid getting a root canal?” If you’re experiencing tooth pain and wondering what to do, then this is for you.
What Is a Root Canal?
A root canal is a procedure used to clean out infection from the inner pulp of the tooth. The purpose is to take care of the infection while preserving your tooth. Your dentist or endodontist will usually follow four steps in a root canal,
- Extract bacteria and decay from the pulp and root
- Disinfect the area
- Fill in the empty tooth
- Seal the tooth to protect it from future decay or infection
Usually, we’ll cover the tooth left behind with a crown. This protects the tooth, which is usually weaker following this procedure.
How Do I Know I need a Root Canal?
The best way to know for sure that you need a root canal is to see your dentist. When you come in for your exam, we’ll clean your teeth and then inspect them for any signs of cavities, decay, or other oral hygiene problems. There are signs you might notice between visits (or if it’s been a long time since your last visit) that will tell you it’s time to schedule an appointment. These include,
- Deep, persistent pain in the tooth
- Sensitivity in your tooth to hot or cold
- Discoloration of the tooth
- Swelling in your gums around individual teeth
- Pain when you eat or touch a tooth
- Loose teeth
- Chipped or cracked teeth
Many of these signs can point to other oral health concerns like gum disease. In the case of loose, broken, or chipped teeth, it’s important to get those addressed, whether or not you need a root canal.
We’ve discussed what a root canal is and signs to look for. We still haven’t answered the big question, though.
Can You Put Off a Root Canal?
In short, no. If you have symptoms that indicate you may need a root canal, it’s important to come in and see your dentist as soon as possible. Even if the pain you feel is minor or it goes away and comes back only periodically, if you delay treatment, it can lead to more serious problems later.
The best way to delay a root canal is to take steps to prevent needing one. Some things that you can do to help prevent the kinds of decay and infections that lead to root canals include,
- Brushing your teeth at least twice a day
- Flossing once a day
- Using a fluoride toothpaste or rinse
- Keeping up with your routine checkups (usually every 6 months)
- Have a dental cleaning at least once a year
- Limiting sugary foods and carbs in your diet
Is It Time for Your Dental Cleaning in Philadelphia, PA?
Absolute Smile is here to meet your dental needs. Contact us today to make an appointment. Take advantage of our free new patient consultation to meet our staff and choose your new family dentist.