What Conditions Do Root Canals Address?

Feb 17, 2023
What Conditions Do Root Canals Address?
You know cavities require fillings, but when do you need a root canal? Here’s a breakdown of the conditions that call for a root canal and why it’s often the best way to save your tooth.

Root canals get a bad rap. Books, movies, and cartoons depict the procedure as painful and horrifying, but that’s far from the truth. Despite its undeserved reputation, a root canal is a safe, routine procedure much less painful than you’re led to believe.

At Anna M. Munné, DDS, PA & ASSOCIATES in the Museum District of Houston, Texas, we use the most advanced technology and modern techniques when performing root canals so that you can relax before, during, and after the procedure.

Here, Dr. Munné explains when a root canal is warranted and what you can expect.

Conditions that may require a root canal

Before diving into the conditions we treat with a root canal, let’s look at your tooth’s anatomy.

Each tooth is covered with a hard coating of enamel. Under that, a yellowish layer of dentin protects the inner tooth called the pulp.

The pulp contains the blood vessels and nerves that lead down through your tooth roots in small channels or canals. Damage or infections that reach the pulp and root canals can lead to pain and decay — a root canal treats these problems.

The most common conditions that lead to pulp damage and infection include:

  • Trauma
  • Cracks and fractures
  • Deep cavities

Anything that breaches the enamel and dentin allows bacteria to enter the pulp and wreak havoc. Even if you can’t see the external damage, you’ll know there’s a problem with your inner tooth if you experience:

  • Hypersensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
  • Pain when you chew
  • Swollen, tender gums
  • Facial swelling
  • Gray or darkened tooth
  • Drainage from the tooth

However, you can have a pulp infection without any symptoms, which is why your twice-yearly checkups are critical to oral health. 

How a root canal saves your tooth

If you ignore an infection inside your tooth, it will eventually rot and fall out or require extraction. Either way, you’re left with a gap in your teeth that leads to various other problems, such as gingivitis, periodontal disease, tooth decay, shifting and misalignment, chewing problems, speech impediments, and facial changes. 

Dentures, bridges, and implants can replace lost teeth, but a root canal is the only treatment that can save your natural tooth. 

Dr, Munné numbs your tooth with a local anesthetic so she can remove the infected pulp through a small hole. She cleans away infection and debris, fills it with sterile material, and seals the opening. 

Most of our patients only feel minor discomfort afterward, but we can prescribe pain medication if needed. After a day or two, you’ll be amazed at how good you feel — you can eat and drink whatever you want without fearing irritating your infected tooth.

To find out if you need a root canal to save your painful tooth, contact us online or by phone to schedule an appointment with Dr. Munné.