Tooth pain can occur suddenly, or can begin as a nagging annoyance but build up to intense pain. However, as the discomfort turns to pain, many patients have the same thought, “I hope I don’t need a root canal.” Known for discomfort or pain and inflammation, patients often cringe when they think they might need to have a root canal done. However, Dr. David Lamothe of Smyrna Dental explains that it’s an infection deep within the tooth that leaves patients clutching their jaw in pain.
To remove the fear of a root canal, it is helpful to understand when a root canal is necessary. First, a root canal is necessary when the interior of the tooth is damaged, either following an accident that involves the mouth and face or from a cavity that wasn’t treated. This infection is typically deep inside the tooth, in the pulp, that contains the nerve, which causes the intense pain. The only way to stop the pain, and get back to normal, is to clear the infection.
To clear the infection, the pulp of the tooth must be removed, and the area thoroughly cleaned. Next the tooth must be filled and sealed to protect it from further damage. It is important to note that the patient will lose feeling to the tooth because the nerve, which is part of the pulp, has also been removed. However, losing the nerve doesn’t affect the function of the tooth.
Occasionally, a patient will not experience symptoms and the infection will only appear on an x-ray during a routine dental exam. More often, however, the patient experiences searing pain when eating or when pressure is applied; sensitivity to extreme temperatures; swollen or tender gums; discoloration of the tooth; or a prolonged sore on the gums.