Severe Toothache?  Afraid of Pain? Want to Save your Tooth?

A Conversation with Endodontist Dr. Ya-Wen Cheng

If you're experiencing tooth pain or sensitivity, suspect a cracked tooth or suffered dental trauma, or your dentist recommended root canal treatment, you should see an endodontist who specializes in diagnosing and treating tooth pain.  Saving your own natural tooth is always a wise choice.  Endodontic treatment helps you maintain your natural smile, continue eating the foods you love and limits the need for ongoing dental work. With proper care, most teeth that have had root canal treatment can last a lifetime.  The longer you postpone treatment the more you risk the chance to save your tooth. 

When Do I need to a Root Canal? 

It’s necessary to have endodontic or root canal treatment when the inside of your tooth (the pulp) becomes inflamed or infected as a result of deep decay (cavity), issues from a previous filling, faulty crowns or a crack or chip in the tooth.  If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause worsening pain or lead to an abscess.  Patients generally may need a root canal when the following symptoms occur: teeth becoming sensitive to cold and/or hot sensations, severe pain while chewing or biting, pimples on the gum, chipped or cracked tooth, and deep decay or darkening of the gum.

What is a Root Canal Treatment?

Root canal treatment is designed to eliminate bacteria from the infected root canal, prevent reinfection of the tooth and save the natural tooth.  During a root canal treatment, the inflamed or infected pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed.

Are Root Canals Painful?  Afraid of Pain? 

There’s no need to be worried.  Root canal treatments are performed to relieve toothaches caused by pulp inflammation or infection.  The pain from a severe toothache can be easily remedied when an endodontist removes the damaged tissue through root canal treatment.  Endodontists are experts in pain management and most cases can be treated quickly and comfortably.  With modern techniques and anesthetics, the vast majority of patients report that they are comfortable during the procedure.  For the first few days after treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. Over-the-counter pain medications, such as Advil® or Tylenol®, are usually enough to manage this sensitivity.  Modern root canal treatment is relatively painless and extremely effective. You’ll be back to smiling, biting and chewing with ease in no time.

What is an Endodontist?

Endodontists diagnose tooth pain and perform procedures relating to the inside of your teeth.  If you need a root canal, you need an endodontist.  While all endodontists are dentists, less than three percent of dentists are endodontists.  Just like a doctor in any other field, endodontists are specialists because they’ve completed additional years of training beyond dental school.  They focus on diagnosing tooth pain and saving a diseased tooth with endodontic treatment.  For this reason, endodontists are commonly referred to as Specialists in Saving Teeth.

Information Source:  American Association of EndodontistsDear Doctor Dentistry & Oral Health