March 21, 2019
Anyone who’s ever had a terrible toothache knows it’s not an experience they want to repeat anytime soon. On top of the short-term pain and discomfort, there’s a long-term consequence as well – the potential for losing a tooth. In some cases, teeth can be saved with simple fillings or dental crowns. But when a cavity becomes larger and leads to an infection and severe toothache, root canal therapy is often the only way to prevent the need for an extraction. Keep reading to find out how cavities develop and how root canals get you out pain and maintain your long-term oral health at the same time!
How Does a Cavity Develop?
Cavities are actually a type of bacterial infection. This occurs when certain bacteria in your mouth produce acid that eats away at your teeth (especially after you consume sugars or carbohydrates). Over time, this destroys the tooth structure and results in a cavity.
Teeth have three layers: Enamel (the hard outer layer), dentin (the slightly softer middle layer), and finally the innermost layer called the pulp. The pulp is very soft and contains the nerve of the tooth, which extends down through the roots.
A small or moderate cavity will only affect the outer layers of the tooth, leaving the nerve in the center protected.
But if a cavity isn’t treated soon enough, it will eventually reach the pulp and nerve of the tooth, causing an infection and/or severe pain. This is when a root canal is necessary.
What Are the Signs You May Need a Root Canal?
Here are several symptoms associated with needing a root canal:
- A throbbing sensation.
- Lingering or persistent pain after eating or drinking something hot or cold.
- Severe pain when eating or chewing.
- A pimple-like bump on the gums.
- Pain that prevents you from sleeping.
Any of these signs could mean you have an infection or abscess. Since this can be dangerous or even life-threatening if it’s left untreated, call a dentist in Allen right away. In addition to getting you out of pain, they’ll also treat the infection.
How Does a Root Canal Benefit You?
A root canal removes the infected pulp so that the remaining outer layers of the tooth can be saved. Otherwise, the entire tooth may need to be removed, making an implant, bridge or partial denture necessary to replace it.
Root canals have a bad reputation, but they’re much, much easier than people think. Modern dentists make patient comfort a top priority and always make sure you’re completely numb and comfortable. There are also sedation options as needed.
Many patients say that their procedure was no more difficult than getting a filling. Not to mention that it only has to be done once, but helps maintain your oral health for life!
About the Author
Dr. Michael Ryan is a general, cosmetic, and restorative dentist in Allen who graduated from the Texas A&M Baylor College of Dentistry in 2006. He likes to focus on cavity prevention and early treatment, but if a severe cavity develops, he always recommends saving the tooth whenever possible. If you have any questions about cavities or root canal therapy, he can be reached via his website.