root canal

Root Canal: What you should know

root canal
Image Source: Freepik

One of the most heard about dental procedures is root canal treatment! Perhaps it’s because a root canal treatment is believed to be one of the horrifying experiences. However, that’s not true! As per the American Association of Endodontists (AAE),

The pain from a severe toothache, often caused by damaged tissues in the tooth, can be easily remedied when an endodontist removes the damaged tissue through root canal treatment. In addition, endodontists are experts in pain management, and most cases can be treated quickly and comfortably.

But why would you need a root canal in the first place? Yes, it’s because your tooth has been too badly infected! But there’s more to the story!

Why you’d need a root canal treatment 

Root canal treatment is generally required when the pulp of the tooth has been badly infected. The pulp of the tooth harbors sensory nerve endings and is the innermost layer of a tooth. When dental caries have been left untreated for too long, bacteria penetrate the tooth and start getting into the pulp, thereby, gradually infecting it. This is a condition called, ‘pulpitis.’

However, not every pulpitis requires root canal treatment. If your pulpitis is reversible, meaning that if a bacterial infection has only reached the dentin (the layer between the enamel and the pulp) of your tooth, your dentist may get rid of it with deep teeth cleaning.

If you have irreversible pulpitis, though, which occurs when the pulp of the tooth gets badly infected by bacteria that further drips down to the root of the tooth, that’s when you’d need a root canal treatment.


You may need a root canal treatment if you have two or more of the following symptoms:

Toothache: During pulpitis, you may experience either a mild or severe toothache, depending on the severity of the infection. Toothaches could be caused by a lot of factors and you should not be taking this symptom alone as a sign of pulpitis. However, during pulpitis, the pain that a patient experiences is due to the infection within the tooth.

Sensitivity to touch: You may experience an unusual amount of sensitivity or pain when you touch a particular tooth if you have pulpitis. Since the root of the tooth is damaged, you may even observe that the aching tooth is acting loose when you touch it.

Sensitivity to certain foods and beverages: When bacteria have entered the pulp of the tooth, it has eroded your enamel and exposed your dentin in the process, which is close to the sensory nerves. Thus, you’re expected to experience heightened tooth sensitivity to anything hot like a cup of coffee, anything cold like soft beverages, or even sugary foods and beverages.

Fever and swollen lymph nodes: You may experience fever alongside your toothache if you have pulpitis. This is because your immunity system tends to raise the body temperature whenever it detects a severe infection, to get rid of the germs causing it.

The immunity system also includes lymph nodes that become hyperactive to fight off these germs. Thus, you may also experience swollen lymph nodes.

In some instances, you may also experience tooth discoloration as a result of a bacterial infection within a tooth.

What to expect

A root canal treatment is a complex, yet simple procedure. You’d be anesthetized so that you do not struggle during the treatment. An access hole will be drilled down to the bottom of your infected tooth and the infected pulp and surrounding nerve tissues will be removed. The inside of the tooth will then be thoroughly washed.

Your endodontist will finally give the tooth a filling to fill the hole. You may even have to visit the dentist one more time for a final filling. Pain after the procedure is inevitable. However, it’s totally tolerable and even Ibuprofen you to cope with such pain. Keep rinsing your mouth with saltwater after 24 hours from the treatment. To better cope with pain, you may apply an ice pack on your cheek.

As you’d have already guessed, since the pulp of the tooth is removed, that tooth never requires a root canal treatment again! However, a tooth that does require one should never be left untreated. Pulpitis is a serious condition that can get too complicated to treat in the future. If you have been experiencing two or more of the symptoms listed in this article, visit your nearest endodontist, now!


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