What Causes a Tooth to Need a Root Canal?

Root canal is a treatment which is used to eradicate a decayed tooth from the gums as it is infectious and may turn fatal if not treated. A deep-rooted cavity is responsible for damaging the nerve, making it necessary for root canal treatment. The doctor normally removes the damaged nerve and flushes out the toxins accumulated in the septic area to ensure the gums remain unaffected.

While the myth that a damaged nerve when removed can cause issues with your tooth health is false, you can be assured of a sensory experience after the nerve connecting the tooth to the gum is removed.

In the case of a wisdom tooth, you might experience slight pain for a few days after the root canal treatment.

While bad oral health may lead you to root canal treatment, there are other causes which leave you with no other option but to undergo the root canal treatment to treat the tooth pain.

What Causes a Tooth to Need a Root Canal?

What Causes a Tooth to Need a Root Canal?

Treating Tooth Decay May Need a Root Canal Treatment

Tooth decay is the main reason why most people find the need to opt for root canal treatment. When decay makes its way to the pulp of the tooth chamber, one feels a sensation when drinking something cold or hot. However, this isn’t the ultimate sign for you to get a root canal. Sometimes, removing decay and getting the cavity filled can be a pre-emptive measure.

However, if the tooth decay has spread far and wide, bacteria can infect the pulp of the tooth which will then lead to an infection. This is referred to as abscess in the bone at the end of the tooth’s root. It can be viewed through x-ray. Sometimes, there are few indications of nerves dying over time. This is a main reason why dentists take x-rays during a routine cleaning appointment.

If you leave the abscess untreated, it can grow and eat away at the bone. This could then lead to pain and swelling. A systemic body infection could result. When this happens, the only recourse to treat the tooth pain is a root canal.

Tooth Pain Due to Sinus Infection May Need Root Canal

A sinus can be defined as a tunnel or tract that helps drain infection which accumulates around the apex (end) of the root via the bone and into the mouth.

It could resemble a mini ulcer or nodule that is lodged on the gum. It might also leave a bad taste in your mouth as pus could be oozing from it. Just because the infection has a place where it can drain itself, you do not feel pain in your tooth. However, when the tract gets blocked is when you feel the pain due to pressure build-up. If this is the case, a doctor will usually recommend a root canal.

Lingering Tooth Pain May Need Root Canal Treatment

During a visit to the dentist, he may ask you if you experience a sensation when you drink something hot and cold. This is an effective way of finding out if the pain is “lingering” or “non-lingering” tooth pain. Lingering tooth pain would mean that the pain persists, while non-lingering is when the pain disappears. If the tooth pain dissipates, the pulp in your tooth might be able to recover after the sensation cause. If the pain persists for a few hours after drinking something cold, it would mean that your tooth is not recovering and the nerve might be dead and will need a root canal treatment.

Positional or Spontaneous Tooth Pain May Need Root Canal

Do you experience pain in your tooth when you sit up or lie down? This could be a sign of abscess, which is likely a dead tooth. However, there could be times when the tooth pain is spontaneous. It could be stimulated after drinking something hot or cold. However, it is possible that the pulpitis can be changed. However, if you experience a wave of tooth pain without drinking anything, you probably have a dead tooth which needs a root canal treatment.

Root Canal Treatment May be Needed to Treat Gum Fistula

A fistula can be best described as a little white, red or yellow pimple-like thing that pops up your gum. This occurrence will inform your dentist of an infection as there will be pus, blood, as well as infectious material trying to come out. However, the fistula is not always found along the tooth infected. Sometimes, a fistula can mislead a doctor as to where the real infection is.

How to Prepare for Root Canal?

Most people dread going to the doctor despite severe tooth pain. This is a wrong move. Once the dentist gives the green signal for a root canal, the countdown begins. If you do not treat it immediate, the infection could spread and cause severe damage. You will experience more pressure and swelling the longer you wait. You may also experience a bad taste in the mouth. In a few cases, your mouth might go numb too. The infection, if untreated, could spread to other vulnerable tissues, including the heart.

This is a main reason why people a hundred years ago would die after a tooth infection. Nowadays, there is no excuse why you shouldn’t make an appointment for a root canal.

In order to treat the tooth infection, you doctor will prescribe antibiotics. If you start taking the antibiotics before getting a root canal, you will experience less pain when the procedure is being performed. This is because the antibiotics help numb the area. If you are not exactly looking forward to a root canal, antibiotics can help prepare you.

When the doctor informs you that you require a root canal, make sure you start taking the antibiotics prescribed right away. Do not put it off to a later date. In time, the infection could have a life-threatening effect. If you weren’t aware already, a tooth infection can kill you!

Also Read:

Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA
Written, Edited or Reviewed By: Pramod Kerkar, M.D., FFARCSI, DA Pain Assist Inc. This article does not provide medical advice. See disclaimer
Last Modified On:May 2, 2022

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