Table of Contents
- What is a root canal?
- Why is a root canal necessary?
- Why is a root canal necessary? (Part 2)
- Why is a root canal necessary? (Part 3)
- How is a root canal procedure performed?
- What happens during a root canal procedure? (Continued)
- Is there pain after getting a root canal?
- Are there special considerations for getting a root canal during pregnancy?
- What kind of problems or complications may occur after a root canal?
- What kind of problems or complications may occur after a root canal? (Continued)
- How long do root canals last?
- How much does a root canal cost?
- Are there any alternatives to a root canal?
- When should a tooth be extracted instead of getting a root canal?
Why is a root canal necessary?
There are many things that can damage the pulp or nerve of the tooth. Often a patient will feel pain or other symptoms that alert them to needing root canal treatment, but many times there are no symptoms or warnings. The following are some of the more common reasons for needing root canal treatment.
Pain: A toothache is the most common symptom of needing a root canal. The pain that comes from a tooth needing a root canal is fairly specific. If the tooth is still alive, the affected person will experience extreme sensitivity to hot or cold liquids or foods and that sensitivity will continue even after the hot or cold stimulus is taken away from the tooth. Heat sensitivity, instead of cold, is a symptom that is very specific to a tooth requiring root canal treatment. The tooth may start to hurt spontaneously, in the middle of the night, or sometimes when the patient isn't even using the affected tooth to eat or drink. The pain can progress to a very severe generalized headache that may cause the person to even forget what initially caused the pain. If the tooth is dead and has become abscessed, the patient will feel pain when he or she chews food or puts pressure on the tooth. An abscess may or may not produce swelling or bleeding around the tooth, and sometimes it causes significant swelling of the cheek, jaw, or throat. If this swelling is noticed, treatment needs are urgent -- even if that means going to urgent care or the emergency room of a hospital. Many other conditions of the mouth can masquerade as a toothache. Therefore, it is very important, when feeling some pain around a tooth, to get a thorough examination with pulp vitality testing by a licensed dentist for a proper diagnosis.
Sometimes a patient may feel intense tooth pain that makes them think they need root canal treatment, but the pain is a symptom of another problem requiring a different treatment. Root surfaces that have become exposed as a result of gum recession can mimic cold sensitivity. Sinus congestion can produce pressure around the roots of the upper teeth and cause pain upon chewing, which mimics root canal pain. Jaw pain can either be an indication of pain in the jaw joint or pain referred from a tooth needing a root canal. Even gum disease can mimic the throbbing pain around teeth that can feel similar to root canal pain.
American Dental Association Division of Communications. "Getting to the root of endodontic (root canal) treatment The goal: preserving the tooth." Journal of the American Dental Association 132.3 (2001): 45-54.
Watkins, C. A., et al. "Anticipated and experienced pain associated with endodontic therapy." Journal of the American Dental Association 133.1 (2002): 45-54.
10.Root Canal Illustration Molar" by Jeremy Kemp
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