When most people think of keeping their teeth healthy, they focus on what it takes to keep their teeth white and healthy on the outside. But there’s a lot more to your teeth than the superficial layers of enamel and dentin. Beneath those superficial layers is the tooth’s central portion called the pulp. The pulp contains the blood supply and nerves that keep your teeth healthy and strong.
Normally, this central portion is well protected by the tooth’s outer layers. But sometimes, this interior pulp portion gets damaged, either by trauma or from infection. When that happens, you need special treatments to remove the damaged pulp while still preserving the rest of the tooth so you can avoid having your tooth pulled.
Endodontists are dentists who specialize in treating the central pulp portion of your teeth. Root canal therapy is the most common dental procedure performed by endodontists, but there are other procedures designed to treat infections and other damage in the tooth’s interior and all the way down to the roots. Here’s when endodontic care is necessary and how to tell if you might need a root canal or similar procedure.
What is a root canal?
Root canal therapy uses special instruments and techniques to reach and remove damaged tooth pulp. During a root canal procedure, the central pulp portion is completely removed, leaving the rest of the tooth undamaged. Then the cavity is carefully cleaned and sealed to prevent future infection. Finally, the cavity is filled with a rubbery material that helps keep the tooth intact. In most cases, the treated tooth needs to be covered with a crown to provide extra strength and protection and also to hide the discoloration that usually occurs once the pulp is removed.
Because pulp damage affects the health and integrity of your tooth, if you don’t have a root canal, you’ll probably need to have the tooth pulled. Tooth extraction can lead to other problems, like an uneven bite, excess tooth wear, increased risk of decay, and even further tooth loss. Root canals preserve your tooth so you can avoid those complications.
How can I tell if I need endodontic care?
Lots of factors can cause or contribute to tooth pain. But usually, the symptoms you experience when your tooth pulp is damaged are more severe than the symptoms associated with damage in the more superficial layers of your teeth. Because the central part of your teeth contains sensitive nerves, pain in this area is usually much more noticeable, especially when you bite down or chew. Sometimes, the pain feels throbbing, and often it can’t be relieved with over-the-counter pain medicine or tooth pain preparations.
Extra sensitivity to hot or cold foods or drinks is another common symptom associated with damage or irritation to the tooth nerves. Sometimes, even breathing in cool air can cause shooting pain in or around your tooth.
When an infection reaches the deeper root part of your tooth, you might develop a sore lump or bump near your tooth, or you might notice a sour taste from pus leaking from an abscess. Abscesses and other infections can also cause persistent bad breath.
These are the most common symptoms associated with tooth pulp damage, and they can vary significantly depending on how far an infection has progressed. The best way to know if you need endodontic care is to make an appointment with Moberi Dental Specialists so your symptoms can be reviewed and evaluated. Dental X-rays can provide an in-depth look at your teeth, revealing damage deep inside the tooth so you can get the most appropriate care to relieve your symptoms and prevent further damage.
Don’t ignore tooth pain
Moberi Dental Specialists is dedicated to ensuring all patients get the best and most appropriate care for their needs. If you’re having tooth pain or similar symptoms, delaying care can just make matters worse — sometimes much worse. Scheduling an office visit is critically important for relieving painful symptoms and preventing deep infections and tooth loss. If you’re having tooth pain, book an appointment online today.