Signs You May Need a Root Canal

Something is really wrong with your upper right molar. You experience stabbing pain when you chew, and the tooth looks discolored. Is root canalextraction the answer? Your Vancouver, WA dentist, Dr. Jill Markos, will evaluate that ailing tooth. It's very possible root canal therapy may save it. Learn the details here about this important restorative procedure.

What is a root canal?

Most people have heard of root canal therapy, or as dentists call it, endodontics. A simple, two-visit procedure, a root canal removes the diseased pulp from the interior of a tooth and the passageways which occupy the center of each root.

Sometimes the interior pulp, with its nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue, becomes infected or otherwise damaged. This causes a painful build-up of pressure inside the tooth.

Other signs of a compromised tooth which could benefit from endodontic therapy are:

  • Persistent bad breath (halitosis) not relieved by brushing your teeth or using mouthwash
  • Tooth enamel discoloration
  • A visible crack or loss of tooth structure
  • Pain when biting or chewing
  • Dental sensitivity to heat, cold or sugary foods
  • A sore, red pimple at the gum line by the tooth
  • Jaw swelling
  • Bad tasting and foul-smelling drainage from the tooth

Sometimes a tooth with multiple fillings or a crown will fail because bacteria infiltrates the restoration and enters the tooth, leading to infection or a dental abscess.

The procedure

Your Vancouver dentist will look at your tooth and surrounding gums, X-ray it to assess the roots and then determine if the tooth must be extracted or if a root canal procedure and crown could save it. The process itself usually takes two visits to Dr. Markos' office, and typically, patients just need local anesthetic to numb the tooth.

To access the interior of the tooth, the Vancouver dentist drills a small access hole into each root canal. There can be as many as four in a single tooth. Then, using small metal files, she removes the pulp and shapes the canal to receive antimicrobial medication and a sealant called gutta-percha. Placement of a temporary filling or crown finishes the first visit. After a week or so of healing, your return to the office to receive a custom-made porcelain crown.

You've saved your tooth

The American Association of Endodontists report that most root canal procedures succeed, and the teeth last indefinitely--sometimes for life. Is the effort worth it? Yes, it is, as sparing a natural tooth is always a better choice than extraction if circumstances are right. Dr. Markos can tell you if root canal therapy will work for you. Don't wait on that painful molar. Contact the office in Vancouver, WA today for an appointment: (360) 693-2544.

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