Many patients just hear the words root canal and automatically become very nervous. However, root canals are not only one of the most common dental treatments but also one of the most effective and safest. While it might sound intimidating, they help save your natural tooth and maintain your root’s critical support and structure. Unlike the common thought, root canal treatments does not mean that you have to undergo severe pain. The treatment modalities involving local anesthesia are no different than a regular filling.
If you are about to undergo root canal treatment or fear you might require a root canal, this overview explains the procedure, why it is recommended, and if you will need a crown following the procedure.
Why do I need a root canal?
Root canals are required when the center of a tooth is infected. The infection is excruciating because it attacks the soft pulp deep inside your tooth. Infection usually occurs when you have advanced, deep tooth decay.
Infection can also happen if you have decay beneath an existing filling or suffer from sudden trauma that damages your tooth. The good news is once the root canal is complete, the pain goes away.
How is a root canal performed?
A root canal procedure is not that much different than having a filling. The main difference is that we drill a hole to reach the center of the tooth to remove the infected pulp. We also clean the inside of the tooth to clear away any decay. Once this is done, we fill the tooth to protect against future infection. We then seal the tooth with a crown if the tooth’s integrity has suffered too much damage.
Why is a dental crown needed?
If your root canal is needed for your molars and premolars, you usually need a crown. This is because your molars bear the most bite force, and the crown is required to provide support. If, on the other hand, it is a front tooth, you might not need a dental crown.
These teeth are used to tear instead of chew, so their strength often remains effective following a root canal procedure. However, each tooth is assessed to determine whether or not a crown is required. In some cases, for example, even a molar might suffer minor damage and be fine with composite resin repairs.
What can increase the need for a crown?
There are a few factors that will make it more likely you need a crown, including:
Severity of damage
If the root is intact, but the tooth itself suffered severe damage, then a crown will be required.
Poor oral health
If you have poor oral health, it might make more sense to have a crown to avoid the risk of further decay. The crown will help keep the tooth healthier and more structurally sound.
If you are a teeth grinder or jaw clencher, a simple filling won’t provide enough protection for your root canal. Instead, you will need a crown to help withstand the constant wear and tear caused by the grinding and clenching. This puts a lot of pressure on your teeth, and a tooth that has undergone a root canal won’t hold up to that pressure.
If the tooth in question has suffered damage in the past, it is probably more susceptible to breakage. In this case, a crown will protect the tooth from crumbling.
As mentioned, we always assess each situation and determine if a crown makes sense or not.
Why are root canals necessary?
Root canals remove dangerous infections that are not only very painful but can lead to complications, including an abscess that requires antibiotics. Should the abscess be left untreated, it can allow the infection to spread. It can even get into your bloodstream.
If a root canal is not performed promptly, there is a good chance you might even lose your tooth. Root canals are designed to save your tooth and root structure, as it is always best to maintain your natural tooth and root. If you lose even a single tooth, it can lead to all kinds of issues, including:
- Difficulty eating
- Speech impediments
- Teeth drifting that can lead to gaps and crowding
- Poor bone stimulation can lead to bone loss
- Changes to the appearance of your smile or even your face
That is why saving your tooth is always a priority.
Signs You Need a Root Canal
If you are suffering from issues that lead you to believe you might need a root canal, here are the signs you need to contact our office right away:
- Severe tooth pain
- Broken, cracked or chipped tooth that might have exposed the root
- Tooth sensitivity
- Swollen gums
- A raised bump (pimple) on your gums
- Sudden tooth discolouration
All of these signs could mean you need a root canal. If a raised sore on your gums, this could mean you have an abscess, and immediate attention is required. Never try to “pop” the sore. Instead, call our office so we can assess the cause.