When your tooth gets infected or starts decaying, your dentist may suggest a root canal. And you’ve probably heard they’re not fun. They are, however, important.
What Is a Root Canal?
When the nerve or pulp of a tooth are damaged or infected, they need to be removed.
The pulp chamber is the soft inside of the tooth. The nerve of your tooth lives in its roots. A root canal removes the nerve and the pulp, going from the tips of your tooth to its soft inside chamber.
Even though nerves sound important, the nerve of your tooth isn’t all that necessary after it has performed its primary function: breaking through the gums. After that, it’s only there to warn you when your ice cream is too cold or your soup is too hot. You won’t really notice it’s gone.
Why Would I Need a Root Canal?
Root canals are necessary because they ward off bacteria or infections. If your tooth’s pulp or nerve tissue is harmed, it starts to deteriorate. That causes bacteria to grow inside the soft pulpy area. And this bacteria—and other decaying stuff—can lead to an abscess or infection.
If you aren’t sure what an abscess is, just think about a pocket full of puss growing at the root of your tooth. Along with abscesses, infections can range from swelling across your face and neck, bone loss near the root of your tooth, and drainage issues in your mouth.
All of this can result from seemingly minor things, like repeated fillings on a single tooth, any sort of trauma to your face, something chipping your tooth, and also deep decay that causes irritation or infection.
How Will I Know If I Need One?
If you experience swelling (or even tenderness) in your gums, a darkening to your tooth, a frequent pimple in your gums, a persistent sensitivity to hot and cold, or even a really bad toothache when you chew, you might want to visit your dentist. You could need a root canal.
However, sometimes there are no signs that your tooth is infected or decaying. That’s why it is imperative that you go to your annual checkup.