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What is a Root Canal and Do I Need One?

Many patients tend to confuse the root canal and the root canal procedure because these terms often get interchanged by medical professionals and dentists. That’s because the word “root canal” refers to both parts of the tooth and the procedure to heal that part of the tooth.

When talking about teeth anatomy, the root canal is the hollow part of the tooth containing the insides of the tooth’s pulp, blood vessels, and nerve-endings. If the root canal experiences conditions such as cavities and gum disease, then the pulp and nerve endings inside the tooth will become inflamed, infected, or begin to decay. If left untreated, the infection from the pulp can lead to an abscess, making eating and talking painful, and ultimately will cause the tooth to become loose.

A root canal treatment removes everything decaying inside the tooth through extraction, decontamination, and cleaning methods. The pain that people experience from the infection is what people fear the most when they visit the dentist. Still, modern technology and medicine have allowed the procedure to be pain-free because of anesthesia and extraction methods.

The Process of Root Canal Treatments

To get to the root of the problem, a surgical dentist, called an endodontist, will make a small access hole in the exterior of the tooth, and through that tiny hole will begin removing the pulp tissue from the tooth, all while the patient is under anesthesia. Next, the dentist will disinfect the root canal and fill the canal with rubber material to solidify the canal. Afterward, the dentist will seal the canal with adhesive dental cement to help protect the tooth from future infections. If there are multiple infections, then various procedures will need to take place across numerous appointments. Still, usually, if only one root canal infection is present, then the process will be completed within a single session.

Symptoms of Root Canal Infection

Some of the symptoms of a root canal infection can include:

  • Pain – If the tooth’s sensitive to hot and cold drinks, experiences pulsing, tender pain while eating and talking, then a root canal infection may be present.
  • Swelling of the Gums – A root canal infection can cause swelling and tenderness to the gum line, affecting the area surrounding the tooth.
  • Yellowing/Darkening Tooth – If the tooth looks brown/yellow, even after brushing and flossing, then the tooth might be infected.
  • Dental Abscess – In severe cases, the tooth will form an abscess, which causes bad breath and extreme discomfort, creating a bulge, red bump, or pimple on the gums. The abscess is usually filled with pus also at the tip of the root and will leak foul liquid when touched.

If you experience the symptoms of an infected root canal, then Dr. Deborah Tabb at Bethesda Family Dentistry can help. Dr. Tabb and her team of dentists have valuable, long-term experience in handling infected root canals and performing root canal treatments. If you live in Bethesda, MD, and need a dentist that can perform root canals, then contact them today to schedule an appointment.

Dr. Deborah TabbPatients at Bethesda Family Dentistry benefit from the knowledge and experience that only comes from a diverse team. From general dentistry to endodontic, periodontics, and cosmetic dental services, this Bethesda, MD clinic is ready to be the only source you need for all your oral health needs.
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