When many people think or talk about emergency dentistry, root canal therapy is often not the first treatment option that comes to mind. Many consider this procedure an advanced treatment that a dentist can take care of during routine dental check-ups, but sometimes this is not the case.
If you or a loved one is dealing with or experiencing severe and bothersome pain or sensitivity in his/her tooth, emergency root canal therapy could help solve the problem. Although root canal therapy has an unappealing reputation for being an uncomfortable and painful teeth restoration treatment, that is not the case.
The pain associated with this procedure is due to the infection inside the affected tooth, not the treatment procedure itself. Like many dental procedures, root canal therapy is a painless and non-invasive treatment option, all thanks to modern technology.
At Beach Dental Care Anaheim, we employ the latest modern technology to ensure our patients receive the precise, gentle, and effective treatment they deserve to stay on top of their dental and oral health. Patients' comfort and care are our primary priorities, and you can relax knowing your or a family member's dental health issue is in the right hands.
What You Need to Know About Root Canal Therapy
Aside from giving you an appealing smile, teeth play other important roles you cannot overlook. Before we discuss what root canal therapy is, it is important to understand your tooth structure. In a nutshell, your tooth consists of the following:
- Crown – This is the visible part of the tooth if your gums are healthy.
- Enamel – This is the hard and highly mineralized outer surface of the tooth that protects the visible part of your tooth (crown).
- Dentin – Below your enamel is the dentin, which is the layer below your enamel and surrounds your tooth pulp chamber or section.
- The pulp chamber – This is the hollow part of your tooth, which contains blood vessels, connective tissues, and nerves (pulp).
- Root – This is the part of the tooth that lies beneath your gum line, and it helps provide support and anchorage.
Root canal therapy can help save your tooth if the pulp section of your tooth is damaged, decayed, or infected. You will know that your pulp is compromised when you experience sensitivity in your tooth when you bite down on cold or warm food.
During root canal therapy, your dentist will remove the infected nerves and pulp to prevent the infection from progressing and stop the uncomfortable sensitivity. Then he/she will clean and disinfect the hollow space and seal it using a material known as gutta-percha to restore the tooth's shape and keep bacteria at bay.
Your dentist could also recommend wearing a crown to keep the tooth intact and secure. Normally, fillings and antibiotics are enough for external tooth infections, but when the bacteria extends to the tooth's pulp chamber, root canal therapy will be necessary if you want to save the tooth. Fortunately, fully-developed teeth do not require pulp to stay functional.
Problems that Can Cause the Need for Root Canal Therapy
Routine dental exams and check-ups often prevent you or a loved one from needing emergency root canal therapy. However, regardless of your discipline and focus on maintaining top-notch oral and dental health, you can develop problems requiring emergency root canal therapy. Below are examples of these issues:
- Old teeth cracks.
- Untreated decay.
- Advanced gum disease (periodontitis).
- Trauma caused by car accidents or falls.
- Tooth grinding (bruxism).
- A decay that has developed under a filling.
Generally speaking, several issues or events can make the tooth pulp compromised or infected, necessitating emergency root canal therapy, but the abovementioned are the most common.
Common Indicators That You or a Loved One Need Emergency Root Canal Therapy
Your dentist will check your dental history and examine your tooth condition keenly to know which treatment will work best for your unique problem. While not every discomfort you feel in your teeth indicates that you are an excellent candidate for root canal treatment, below are common warning signs that should tell you that you need this procedure immediately:
Swelling Around Your Gums and Tooth
Swelling and inflammation of the gums could be a sign of the onset of an infection. While the inflammation and swelling can worsen, leading to more severe problems, a dental abscess can sometimes form. In both cases, immediate care by an experienced dentist is necessary to prevent further problems.
Persistent and Bothersome Pain in Your Tooth
Any pain in your body is a sign that you are not well. While there are several causes of oral pain, if you are experiencing pain in and around any of your teeth, a compromised pulp chamber is one of the main culprits behind this discomfort. The pain caused by an infected pulp is nothing like a typical toothache.
If you have an infected or otherwise compromised pulp, it could be challenging to pay attention or focus. When this happens to you or a loved one, waiting for the next business day to schedule an appointment with your dentist is not an option.
If you have an emergency dentist, you should contact him/her as soon as possible for a check-up and treatment when you experience bothersome pain in your tooth.
Extremely Fractured Tooth
An extremely fractured, cracked, or chipped tooth is another sign that you could be an excellent candidate for emergency root canal therapy. When you experience trauma to your mouth area during sporting activities or an accident, your tooth could fracture, necessitating emergency root canal therapy to save the weakened tooth.
That is particularly true if the fracture extends deep into your tooth's nervous and sensitive pulp chamber. While your dentist can fix some chips and cracks using composite resin, root canal therapy will be necessary if the crack extends to the extremely sensitive pulp chamber of the tooth.
When left untreated, a severe fracture can allow bacteria to enter the tooth's pulp chamber and even weaken the tooth's roots, necessitating an extraction. However, you can prevent this by scheduling an emergency dental appointment with your dentist for root canal therapy.
When you notice that your tooth has brownish, black, or white spots, it could be a message or a sign that the inner tissues of the tooth, including the blood supply vessels and nerves, are damaged. If this discoloration is associated with sensitivity or pain when you bite food, emergency root canal therapy could be necessary to save the tooth.
While the filling material the dentist will use during this procedure can help restore the tooth's shape and color, your dentist could recommend a tooth whitening procedure to improve the aesthetic appearance of your smile.
Like a chipped or cracked tooth, your dentist can use a customized dental crown to restore and secure your teeth after a root canal procedure.
When bacteria find their way into the pulp chamber, they can spread to the surrounding tissues, including the jaw bone, weakening the tooth. If you notice some mobility in your tooth, you should consult a dentist as soon as possible because you could be an excellent candidate for root canal therapy.
Unless the affected tooth's root(s) are extremely eroded or weakened to support it, emergency root canal therapy could help save this tooth by preventing the progression of the infection.
Tooth Discomfort With the Slightest Touch or Pressure
If your tooth hurts when you chew, bite, or touch it with your finger or tongue, it could be a sign that your pulp chamber is compromised, meaning it has an infection or vital tissues inside it are damaged. Your dentist could recommend root canal therapy to remove the infection and prevent further dental problems if you are experiencing discomfort in your tooth, even with the slightest pressure or touch.
If sipping your favorite hot or cold beverages is no longer fun due to extreme tooth sensitivity, you should consider scheduling an emergency dental appointment with your dentist. Extreme or uncomfortable sensitivity on your teeth, when you sip cold, sour, or warm drinks could indicate that your pulp is irritated, inflamed, or infected.
Importance of Prompt Care When You Detect Any of the Above Signs
If you are experiencing any of the above-explained signs of compromised pulp or root canal problems, do not hesitate to schedule a consultation with your dentist. Although they could be signs of other dental health problems, these symptoms require prompt examination and care to find the root cause of the problem.
A comprehensive dental exam, including X-rays, could help determine how close the damage or cavity is to the nerves inside your pulp chamber. If the cavity or damage is near the pulp chamber, the pulp materials are likely already infected. In that situation, emergency root canal therapy will be necessary to remove or drain the infected pulp and alleviate the uncomfortable symptoms you are experiencing.
If your affected tooth is left unchecked or untreated, there are chances that the infection will spread to the surrounding bones and tissues, eventually leading to tooth loss. Therefore, the sooner you schedule an appointment with a dentist when you experience signs of root canal issues, the better to stay on top of your oral and dental health.
How Your Dentist Will Perform the Root Canal Treatment Procedure
A general dentist or endodontist can perform a root canal treatment procedure. If the infection is severe, your dentist will likely refer you to an endodontist for specialized treatment. An endodontist is a dentist specializing in diagnosing and treating health problems and complications that affect the inner part of your tooth.
Once you visit your dentist, he/she will thoroughly examine the affected tooth to determine whether you are an excellent candidate for root canal therapy. If so, he/she will begin the procedure by injecting you with local anesthesia to numb the surrounding tissues and make the procedure painless. In a nutshell, root canal therapy has the following four main steps:
Eliminating and Cleaning Away the Active Infection and Decay
After administering local anesthesia, your dentist or endodontist will remove tooth decay, leaky fillings, pus, and infected blood vessels and nerves inside the pulp chamber. Your dentist can remove the compromised pulp with one appointment, but sometimes it could require more sessions due to the anatomy or structure of your affected tooth and your comfort level.
Shaping the Tooth Canal
Once the dentist removes the compromised pulp, the next step he/she will begin shaping your tooth canal to remove unnecessary irregularities that can create an ideal environment for bacteria to thrive. The shaping process typically involves special disinfectants, small instruments, and medication.
Filling the Tooth Canal
After disinfecting the affected tooth canal and removing the irregularities, your dentist will fill and seal this space with a long-lasting biocompatible, rubber-like filling material to prevent re-infection.
Making the Tooth Functional Again
Often, a tooth requiring root canal treatment has probably lost its structural parts due to severe cracks and decay, making it weak and vulnerable. If so, your dentist could recommend wearing a dental crown to strengthen and support the tooth.
These are the main steps to expect during emergency root canal therapy. If you are nervous and anxious about the procedure, you can ask your dentist whether a sedation option is available to make you relaxed and comfortable during the procedure.
What to Remember After a Successful Emergency Root Canal Therapy
Your dentist will tell you what to expect after successful root canal therapy to avoid unnecessary complications. In a few words, here is what to remember after successful root canal therapy:
You Will Likely Experience Numbness and Moderate Pain
In most cases, it is normal to experience numbness in and around the gums surrounding the restored tooth as the anesthesia fades away. However, this tingling sensation should disappear within two hours.
Emergency root canal therapy will help reduce the pain associated with a compromised or infected pulp. However, there is a possibility that you could experience discomfort after the procedure once the administered anesthesia fades away, but this feeling will lessen within a few days.
To help reduce or prevent these side effects of this procedure, your dentist will recommend that you avoid chewing or drinking hot drinks. If necessary, your dentist will also recommend OTC (over-the-counter) painkillers like Advil and Tylenol to help alleviate the pain.
Take Your Prescribed Antibiotics as Required
If your dentist prescribes antibiotics like amoxicillin to cure or prevent re-infection, you must take the medications for the required period as prescribed.
Be Mindful When Chewing or Biting With the Restored Tooth
Even after the dentist fills and seals the canal with the rubber-like filling material, your tooth will remain vulnerable because of the canal until you receive a permanent, customized dental crown. In the meantime, you should be mindful and vigilant of the restored tooth by avoiding sticky foods and chewing with the opposite side of your mouth.
Keep Brushing and Flossing Your Teeth as Usual
Although you must be vigilant about the restored tooth, remember to floss and brush your teeth as usual (at least twice daily). Maintaining top-notch oral hygiene prevents further complications and boosts your healing speed for the optimal oral and dental health you deserve.
Have the Restored Tooth Crowned On Time
As previously mentioned, to restore the integrity and strength of the affected tooth after emergency root canal therapy, you need to be ready to wear a crown or any other suitable dental restoration. Before that time, your restored tooth will remain weak and prone to fractures.
The sooner you receive a permanent dental crown, the sooner you will begin to chew and bite food easily and confidently, as if you do not have a vulnerable or restored tooth.
Frequently Asked Questions About Emergency Root Canal Therapy
It is natural for patients to ask questions before any medical procedure to know what to expect during and after treatment. Below are common questions patients ask about emergency root canal therapy:
Are There Other Alternative Treatments to Root Canal Therapy?
Yes, not everyone is an excellent candidate for root canal therapy. If you have a severely damaged tooth, your dentist could recommend an extraction procedure to remove the tooth. Once the dentist extracts or removes the affected tooth, he/she could recommend the placement of a dental implant in the gap to support or anchor an artificial, custom-made tooth for an appealing smile.
What is the Tooth Color After Successful Root Canal Therapy?
The color of a normal, healthy tooth with an uncompromised pulp is yellowish-white. However, a pulp-free and sealed tooth could eventually appear greyish, and you will likely notice this color change if you have not received a permanent crown. Your dentist will guide you on what to do when this happens to keep your smile looking great and appealing.
Find an Anaheim Emergency Dentist Near Me
Regular dental check-ups are crucial, and it is important to see a dentist when you experience any discomfort in your tooth, even if it is not severe. Ignoring a sensitive or painful tooth could cause severe and costly health issues in the long run.
To avoid possible long-term damage or progression of the infection causing discomfort in your tooth, our dentists at Beach Dental Care Anaheim can offer you emergency root canal therapy. We invite you to call us at 714-995-4000 to schedule your first appointment with our reliable dentists.