Many of us have heard the term ‘root canal’ mostly because of its association with the root canal treatment procedure. The root canal treatment is done to treat severe infections that are present in the tooth. Although most people are familiar with the root canal procedure, many of us are unfamiliar with the root canal itself and how to tell if it is infected. In this blog, we are going to talk about certain signs to look out for to know if your root canal is infected or not.
The Basic Structure of a Tooth
Each tooth is hard and rigid on the outside while it is filled with soft tissue that consists of nerves and blood vessels on the inside. This soft filling present within a tooth that houses the nerves and blood vessels is called the ‘pulp’. The pulp extends into the tooth’s roots via individual canals known as root canals. A single tooth can has 1-4 root canals (In rare cases, some people might have more than 4 root canals).
In severe tooth decay, the bacteria destroy the outer protective layers (enamel and dentin layer) of our teeth to reach the inner soft pulp, where it will rapidly multiply. This can worsen the infection and it can spread all the way down to all the root canals and create a pus-filled cyst known as an abscess.
Signs of Root canal Infection
The inner pulp present inside each tooth is incredibly sensitive. So an infected root canal can result in sudden sharp pain. If the infection manages to progress into the ends of the roots to form an abscess, it can result in more pain and it needs to be treated immediately. Some of the other common symptoms for a root canal infection include the following.
- Constant tooth pain which worsens while biting down
- Tooth sensitivity to heat and cold
- Swollen and tender gums around the infected tooth
- Bad breath
- A small lump or pimple-like structure appearing over the gums
- Darkened tooth color
Treating an infected Root Canal
Root canal treatment is a procedure that is designed to salvage a severely infected tooth. In this procedure, the entire tooth is essentially hollowed out by removing the pulp and cleaning out the infection present inside. For people who have an abscess accompanying their root canal infection, the abscess is punctured and drained to prevent the spreading of the infection.
After the tooth is entirely cleaned out and disinfected, the tooth is filled with ‘gutta-percha’, an inert filling material used to seal the hollowed-out tooth to prevent any further infection. After this, a dental crown is placed over the tooth to reinforce the treated tooth.