Worried about a root canal? Don’t be. This is one of the most commonly performed dental procedures, with dentists in the US performing around 15 million root canals every year.
However, many people are anxious about the idea of a root canal, and ignore signs that their tooth is in trouble until infection sets in and they get saddled with the very pain they tried so hard to avoid.
At the Washington, DC, dental practice of Dr. Margaret Culotta-Norton and Dr. Peter Grinc, we (like many other dental practices) perform root canals as a routine part of our daily practice. We promise that it’s not anywhere near the terrifying procedure people think it is, and we can save your tooth.
The anatomy of your tooth structure
Your tooth is made of an outside layer of hard white enamel covering the thick layer of dentin that makes up the internal structure of your tooth. At the center of your tooth is the root canal system housing a nerve/nerves and blood vessels that feed your tooth. Another name for the root canal system is the pulp.
4 Signs You Need A Root Canal to Save Your Tooth
A cavity can let bacteria access the pulp which is the perfect breeding ground for infection. When a tooth is infected you may notice one or more of the following symptoms:
1. Persistent pain
Pain that just won’t stop is a sign of infected pulp. If you feel your heartbeat in your tooth, this is probably a sign that you need a root canal. The pain also will typically increase when you bite down or chew and wake you up at night.
2. Swelling and redness of the gum
The bacteria causing the infection inside your tooth can easily spread to the outside and infect the gum tissue as well. Redness and swelling of the gum around the painful tooth is a pretty good sign you need a root canal.
3. A visible chip or crack
If you can visually confirm a chip or crack and have any pain in that tooth, bacteria is probably setting up shop. It’s time to see a dentist before things get out of hand.
4. Extreme tooth sensitivity
Even if your tooth isn’t painful yet, extreme sensitivity can be a sign that your tooth is needing a root canal. If your tooth is sensitive and pulses when exposed to heat, cold, or pressure, it could be pulp letting you know there is a problem with your tooth and nerve.
The root canal procedure
During a root canal, Dr. Culotta-Norton makes an opening on the top of your tooth so she can quickly scrape out the infected pulp tissue which contains the remains of the nerve. Then she thoroughly sterilizes the entire inside of the tooth.
Dr. Culotta-Norton refills your tooth with a durable material known as gutta-percha that hardens inside the tooth. She then seals the access opening before she covers the surface of the tooth with a crown to fully restore it.
Why a root canal is so important
If you don’t get a root canal when you have an infected tooth root you may experience intense pain and inflammation caused by an acute infection. If you don’t seek care it is possible that the tooth will keep decaying and the infection can spread outside of the root canal system into your bone and soft tissues.
If too much damage has been done to your teeth, gums, and underlying bone, we may be out of time to do a root canal and save the tooth. At this point the tooth may have to be extracted and a three unit bridge or an implant placed to restore the missing tooth so that your arch will not destabilize causing more teeth to have problems.
Compared to that, a root canal performed by Dr. Culotta-Norton or Dr. Grinc isn’t a bad option. We can relieve your pain and save your tooth with a quick, effective root canal. Contact our office today at 202-833-1111 or book your visit online.