When is a Root Canal Necessary?
The most certain way to discover whether a root canal is necessary is to consult with an endodontist (root canal specialist). However, there are some telltale signs that a problem may be occurring. It is obvious that acute tooth pain is the first signal that something is awry. However, the pain will be severe. Other characteristic symptoms will include a pronounced swelling in the jaw around the tooth, a low-grade fever, swelling of the immediate gum line, a feeling of warmth around the region and even an abscess in the bone near the affected tooth.
So, some of the main indicators that root canal therapy may be needed are:
- Acute, localized pain.
- Swelling in the jaw.
- A low-grade fever.
- Painful and red gums.
- Warmth around the region.
- A bone abscess.
A Root Canal Procedure and Recovery Times
Should all signs point to the need for a root canal, the treatment itself is often straightforward. The first step will be taking an x-ray to make certain that the infection has not spread to the surrounding bone. After this is ascertained, local anaesthesia will be used to numb the area. A hole will be drilled into the affected tooth and the pulp, bacteria and the nerve will be summarily removed. In some newer instances, a laser may be used to accomplish this task, although this process is still controversial. Water will be used to flush away the debris occasionally. Some dentists may choose to leave this hole open for a brief period of time to help make certain that there are no complications resulting from a new infection. Subsequently, the hole will be sealed with a rubber-like compound known as gutta percha. If the hole is sufficiently large, a crown may be needed to help protect the remaining enamel.
To review, the steps involved in a root canal procedure are as follows:
- An x-ray will be taken to determine the spread of the condition.
- Local anaesthetic is administered.
- A hole will be drilled (newer treatments may involve a laser).
- The bacteria, pulp and nerve are removed.
- The debris is washed away.
- The hole will soon after be filled.
- For larger procedures, a crown may be needed.
Recovery times will vary with such a treatment and will usually revolve around the extent of the process and the health of the individual. Antibiotics may also be prescribed by the specialist to help ensure that no other infections will occur in the area. Swelling and tenderness may follow the root canal treatment although these will normally be short-lived and disappear within a few days. Should any symptoms such as tooth pain return, this may indicate that the infected area has not been completely ablated and further treatment options may be considered to avoid future complications.
Summarily, recovery times and the success of the operation are based on a number of factors including:
- The extent of the treatment.
- The general health of the individual.
- Swelling and tenderness may still be present.
- Antibiotics may be prescribed.
- Should the pain not subside, this may signal the need for further treatment.