Did you know that more than 26% of American adults have untreated tooth decay? Depending on the severity of the decay, a dentist might recommend that you receive an emergency root canal.
This treatment can prevent tooth loss and the spread of an oral infection. What is a root canal and what are the signs you need one? Keep reading to find out.
What Is a Root Canal?
A modern root canal treatment is similar to a routine filling but is necessary for more severe tooth problems. Needing a root canal is a dental emergency and learning what a root canal is can help you understand why.
Root canal treatments are designed to eliminate bacteria and prevent reinfection of the tooth. Instead of pulling the tooth, this procedure aims to save the natural tooth.
Someone undergoing a root canal will have the infected pulp removed from the inside of the tooth.
Underneath the white enamel of teeth is dentin, a hard layer. Under the white enamel and dentin is pulp, a type of soft tissue.
The pulp contains nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels that help the root of your tooth grow when it is developing.
Fully developed teeth can survive without the pulp because the tissues around the teeth can nourish them.
Getting an emergency root canal and saving your natural tooth comes with these benefits:
- Natural appearance
- Efficient chewing
- Protection from excessive strain or wear
- Normal biting force and sensation
Getting a root canal is an effective solution to a severe tooth infection. Contrary to popular belief, it’s also relatively painless.
Now, let’s get into the signs that you need an emergency root canal.
You might need an emergency root canal if you are experiencing unbearable pain.
If this pain is caused by the pulp chamber of the tooth, this won’t be anything like a regular toothache. This type of pain won’t allow you to sleep or focus on tasks.
Waiting until the following day to go to an emergency dentist is not an option when you have unbearable pain. You’ll need immediate relief from the situation to prevent further complications.
Pus Coming From a Tooth
If you have a severe tooth infection, pus might form and come out of the area around the tooth. This is an obvious sign that you have a dental infection.
An infected tooth can be treated during the early stages, but waiting too long comes with various consequences. A severe toothache and infection can lead to the loss of the tooth.
The infection can also spread to other areas in the mouth and around the body. You may also notice pimple-like features on your gums indicating an infection that needs immediate attention.
A dentist can perform an emergency root canal to try to save the tooth before it becomes unsalvagable.
Severely Damaged Tooth
A person might need a root canal from causes other than an infection. If your tooth has been severely damaged by trauma, a root canal can prevent you from losing the tooth entirely.
Trauma damage often reaches the pulp of the tooth causing pain and discomfort. Touching the tooth and doing oral activities like eating, drinking, and talking might cause pain as well.
A root canal will remove the pulp and the nerves in the tooth to eliminate pain. A dentist will perform the procedure and then use a crown to restore the tooth’s appearance.
You might need emergency dental services for tooth discoloration. Although most of the time a discolored tooth is not cause for concern, tooth discoloration might be a sign of nerve damage.
If discoloration is associated with sensitivity and pain when eating or drinking hot or cold items, a root canal is necessary to save the tooth. Like a cracked or chipped tooth, a yellow tooth can be saved with a root canal and crown.
When you have deep tooth decay, you might notice discolored gums. Darkening of the gums is another sign you need an emergency root canal.
Filling vs. Root Canal
For a damaged tooth, a dentist might recommend a filling. If the problem is more serious, they will complete a root canal instead.
Some dentists don’t perform root canals and instead will refer you to an endodontist.
A filling is a simpler procedure that removes the damaged area of the tooth. Typically, the damage is located on the surface of the tooth.
During the process of getting a filling, your tooth will be cleaned and sealed to restore its appearance and prevent decay in the future.
A root canal is necessary when the damage goes deeper than the surface of the tooth. When the tooth’s pulp is affected, a dentist or endodontist will use special tools to remove the infected pulp.
Your tooth will be cleaned and crowned, much like it would be when you get a filling. However, this is where the similarities between a filling and a root canal end.
Do You Need an Emergency Root Canal?
An emergency root canal can save your natural tooth and prevent reinfection.
You might need an emergency root canal if you are experiencing unbearable pain, have pus coming from your tooth, your tooth is severely damaged, or you have tooth discoloration.
If you avoid getting a root canal when you experience these signs, you could lose your tooth completely. Call a dentist or endodontist if you believe you need this procedure.
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