Root canal treatments are vital dental procedures used to prolong the life of existing teeth. Our teeth are made up of natural, living materials, and include a range of different types of tissues. Many of these tissues extend down into the gums and jaw – so any issues or infection in the deeper roots within the teeth can be very painful.
Here is our guide on how to know whether you might need root canal treatment or not. We’ll also discuss some of the other dental concerns that can cause similar symptoms, and how you can find help to diagnose and manage these issues.
Root canal treatment is a dental procedure used when there is a deep infection within the tooth. Each of our teeth are made of many layers of materials including enamel and dentin. At the core of each tooth, there is a soft fleshy tissue called the ‘pulp’. Although enamel (the outermost surface of the tooth) is one of the hardest materials found throughout the human body, it is not impenetrable. Gradual issues such as tooth decay can lead to the eventual breakdown of enamel and dentin, leaving the inner pulp exposed. Trauma to the teeth can cause a similar fate, with unexpected injuries leading to inner pulp damage. Teeth can also become broken, cracked, or fractured (much like other bones) – which can lead to areas of the pulp being exposed, making it susceptible to infections.
Root canal treatment is used to treat these infections. The procedure involves removing the infected pulp, then properly cleansing the inner parts of the tooth. Once everything is professionally cleaned by your dentist, the affected tooth will be filled. In some cases, you may need a crown fitted. Ensuring the initial infection is removed, these fillings ensure your teeth are adequately protected against future infection.
If you have a tooth that is especially sensitive or painful, you may want to secure a check-up with your dentist. Any infection of the pulp will likely cause noticeable pain, and it’s best to get this looked at as soon as you can. While pain and sensitivity can be symptoms linked to an infected root canal, sensitive teeth can also suggest a range of other issues.
If you have a cavity that needs filling, for example, you may experience tooth sensitivity. Or, you may have problems such as recessive gums. It is very difficult to diagnose the cause behind such issues without having a consultation with your dentist, so book an appointment if you do have any concerns.
If you have chipped your tooth and have since been experiencing pain or sensitivity, you may need a check-up. Any exposure of the inner pulp can leave the tooth susceptible to infection, as this gives bacteria an easy place to settle within the inner workings of your teeth. It is important to remember, however, that not all cases of chipped or broken teeth lead to exposed pulp, and not all cases of exposed pulp lead to infection! This is why you should visit your dentist in order to get the right diagnosis before seeking treatment.
If you have a chipped or broken tooth that is bothering you in terms of the impact it has on your appearance, your dentist may recommend a cosmetic treatment such as composite bonding.
If you just can’t seem to shift that bad taste from your mouth, you may want to check whether you have an infection. If you have an infection in one of your teeth, bad breath will be almost impossible to shift until the ‘root’ cause of the problem is solved. Bad breath in general is caused by bacteria building up in the mouth. Throughout the day, the amount of the bacteria we have in our mouth will grow naturally, and will depend on what we eat – but it’s not always healthy. Bad bacteria caused by infections can multiply rapidly, especially when hiding in hard-to-reach spaces such as inside our teeth!
Other issues that can lead to bad breath include gum disease (periodontitis), dietary habits, and poor dental hygiene. To prevent bad breath, focus on brushing and flossing your teeth after a meal. You should also use an antimicrobial mouthwash to cleanse the rest of the mouth, tongue and throat.
Having discoloured teeth may be a key sign you need to get your teeth looked at by a dentist. If the inside of your tooth begins to decay due to infection, this can cause the outer layers of enamel to darken. If the discolouration is only happening on one tooth as opposed to a wider area of teeth, book an appointment to see your dentist.
On the other hand, some tooth discolouration is normal and completely natural. Drinks such as red wine and coffee will inevitably stain the teeth, while ageing is linked to tooth discolouration too.
While our main concern when evaluating any root canal procedure will be to focus on managing the underlying infection, it is important that you first have a consultation with your dentist to confirm the diagnosis. During this consultation, we can check your surrounding teeth for any signs of damage, as infections can spread quickly. We can also then discuss any possible alternative routes regarding treatment.
If you think you need root canal treatment, our team at Ringway Dental are always on hand. We understand the level of pain that can come with an infected tooth, so we are committed to fitting emergency appointments in as soon as we can.
You can call the Ringway Dental team directly on 0161 437 2029. To find out more, you can also fill out our contact form online. Add your message (along with any questions you may have) and we will get back to you as soon as possible.