When your dentist tells you that you need a root canal, the first thing that comes to mind is most likely “why”. You brush your teeth, almost as many times a day as suggested by your hygienist. You floss your teeth as you’re supposed to, well, sometimes. And you visit the dentist regularly, or at least twice a year. All the things you’re supposed to do, or as much as your busy lifestyle will allow easily. So why would the dentist tell you that you need a root canal? Is your oral hygiene really so different from everyone else’s that you now have to have this procedure?
First, the answer is no. Everyone has times they don’t follow what the dentist recommends. Some just have stronger enamel than others. It’s probably genetic. Second, the dentist has recommended a root canal because it is the most appropriate method to prevent further decay in your teeth.
You may not have felt any pain in the tooth needing treatment. However, the dentist may have noticed something on an x-ray that was concerning. This will usually require further x-rays, and some tests to determine if there is pulp and nerve damage. These tests may include ice and heat tests and more x-rays.
If your tooth is hurting, you may feel it throb, similar to a heartbeat. This throbbing may change as you change position with your head, ie standup, lean over, clench. Pain and throbbing can also increase when you chew your food, put pressure on your tooth, or tap on it with something hard. The pain you feel may linger for several minutes after this stimuli, or it may linger for hours after it has found a home within your mouth.
You may also experience swelling in your gums. This swelling can be quite extreme, or small, depending on the amount of damage in your tooth. This may cause your tooth to be elevated, or cause a swelling spot the size of a boil at the base of your gums. If you want to make sure the swelling is coming from the area that you need the root canal in, the swelling will generally be located in that area, right where the tooth and gum meet. If it is caused by nerve damage in the tooth, the swelling will be in the area of the root, which can be a distance away.
There are also signs that only your dentist is going to recognize. He can tell whether or not the nerve for the tooth has died. Despite how painful this may sound, it does not always cause symptoms that you may be able to recognize. The damage may have also happened so long ago that you don’t remember.
Your dentist can also identify recurrent gum pimples. While you may suffer from these, and you will want to bring these to your dentist’s attention, the dentist is able to identify the damage caused by these. The gum pimples are a way for your gums to drain pus from a bad tooth.
Your tooth may have also changed in color. This is something you may be able to notice, but if it is in the back of your mouth, your dentist will be able to find it easier.
Your dentist has your oral health in mind when he recommends that you have a root canal. The damage can extend into your mouth and other bones, as well as affect other roots and nerves. You will want to follow his instructions as quickly as possible. This is a simple, non-complicated procedure, and if you have concerns, both the endodontist and dentist will be able to answer them.