It is sometimes surprising to realize that each one of your teeth is a living, organic structure that moves and reacts to stimuli. Beneath the enamel and dentin layers, there is a soft, pinkish core called the pulp. This is the life of the tooth, as it holds all the nerves and blood vessels that connect it to the nervous system the main bloodstream. Each tooth has an incredible amount of nerve endings, which make it possible for you to distinguish between hot and cold and to measure bite strength. When this pulp is damaged, infected, inflamed or exposed it can cause tremendous pain. Unfortunately, deterioration of the pulp chamber is often irreversible. For this reason, it is important to address any problem immediately. A root canal treatment is a procedure in which the pulp is removed and the cavity filled with a special material called gutta-percha. Oftentimes, this is the only way to stop the throbbing sensation once it has started. Here are some signs to watch out for that may indicate the need for a root canal treatment.
- It hurts when you chew or bite. This may indicate a high point on your bite, in which case a slight filing can solve the problem. If the pain continues for a considerable time, it is best to visit a dentist because this may mean there is an ongoing inflammation of the pulp. The dentist will help you determine what is causing it. If the pain does not diminish, you might want to consider a root canal.
- There is an electric sensation when you aspire air or drink hot or cold beverages. This is the most common symptom of an infected or exposed pulp. If air or water is enough to give you pain, without any force involved, you will almost certainly need a root canal treatment. The electrical sensation is also proper for nerve reactions. Recall the brain receives signals from nerves in your body through minuscule electric shocks. Strong signals are interpreted as pain due to a defense system that warns against a threat to the health of the tooth.
- You have had an untreated cavity for a long time. Cavities are caused by bacteria that have infiltrated through the enamel. If the cavity is left untreated, they will thrive and advance into the dentin. Now, the dentin is a softer layer and bacteria destroy it more rapidly than the enamel. You will start feeling pain at this point. Once they reach the pulp, bacteria will infect it and a root canal is almost certain. Bacteria can also travel through your tooth roots and into your bone structure where they cause infections that can even spread to other teeth.
- There is prolonged sensitivity or pain after a crown or filling. After extensive dental treatments, it is normal to have reversible pulp inflammation and pain, but this must improve progressively with time. Since the dentist must grind tooth structure in these procedures, it is possible he might have inadvertently gotten too close to the nerve, which causes prolonged sensitivity. If this is the case, the damage is irreversible and you will need a root canal.
- Your tooth or filling fractured. If your tooth is fractured horizontally at the midline or below, you will most likely have an exposed pulp. Sometimes fractures do not hit the nerve but leave it semi-exposed. It is very important to visit your dentist as soon as you notice since bacterial infections and painful sensitivity are very common in these cases.
The root canal treatment is an excellent therapeutic measure that lets you prolong the function of a tooth. Even though it is no longer vital, the external structure continues to work. If you identified with any of the above points you should visit a dentist soon. There is, however, no need to worry since the procedure is quick and painless. At the Costa Rica Dental Team, we work with an endodontist because we understand you´ll require precision and expert attention. Contact us now for more information.