Root canal therapy is often a necessary dental procedure. If you have a toothache, a cracked tooth, or a deep cavity, a root canal may be the best treatment option.
Has your dentist recommended a root canal? Have you been experiencing symptoms of an infected tooth? If so you may be wondering how long you can put off treatment. Here’s what you need to know about root canal therapy and whether or not it can wait.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal, sometimes called root canal therapy, is a procedure named for the part of the tooth it addresses. The root canal is the inner chamber of a tooth that extends into the root. It contains soft tissue called dental pulp that is mostly made up of blood vessels and nerves. The dental pulp sustains the tooth as it is developing and remains inside the tooth once it is permanently in place.
The dental pulp is susceptible to infection. If bacteria invades the root canal and reaches the dental pulp, it can cause a tooth infection that can be painful. Root canal therapy is a procedure that treats an infected tooth. The dental pulp is completely removed from the root canal and replaced with a filler material that fortifies the tooth and is resistant to infection. In most cases a crown is placed over the tooth after a root canal to protect the root.
Why Do I Need a Root Canal?
A tooth may need a root canal for a variety of reasons:
- Infection. If a tooth is infected it will need a root canal to remove the infected tissue and fill the tooth to prevent further infection. Your tooth may be infected if it hurts or is extremely sensitive to cold, heat, or sugar.
- Cracked tooth. A crack in a tooth can be the avenue through which bacteria enters the root canal and infects the pulp. If the tooth is not already infected, a root canal can prevent infection.
- Deep cavity. A deep cavity in a tooth is another way that bacteria may enter the root canal and cause an infection. If a cavity reaches the dentin, the soft layer of tooth material under the enamel, a root canal may be needed rather than a filling.
- Chipped tooth. Depending on the size of the chip, it could mean the tooth should have a root canal to prevent infection.
- Broken tooth. When a significant portion of a tooth breaks off, a root canal should be done before a crown is placed over the tooth in order to prevent infection.
What Happens if I Put Off a Root Canal?
If a root canal is put off for too long, a variety of problems can occur:
- The tooth may become infected. A tooth that is at risk for infection could develop an infection if the root canal is not done proactively. Once the infection has set in it becomes more difficult to treat.
- The infection may spread. An infected tooth that goes untreated can spread to the neighboring teeth and damage the support structures for the teeth, including the jaw bone.
- You may experience pain. If the tooth develops an infection it can be extremely painful. The pain may come and go at first, but as the infection worsens it can become a constant throbbing pain.
- Your tooth may not be saved. There is a short window of time when a root canal can save a tooth. If put off for too long, the tooth may be unsavable and need to be extracted.
Don’t Wait. Schedule Your Root Canal Now
If you have a tooth that needs a root canal or you think may need root canal therapy, contact Glassman Dental Care right away to schedule an evaluation. We will assess the condition of the tooth and recommend the course of treatment that offers the best chance of saving the natural tooth. Avoid pain and save time and money by getting your root canal taken care of as soon as possible.