If you have tooth pain, it may not be a cavity. Severe decay and trauma can lead to a tooth infection, which usually requires root canal treatment to stop the pain and eliminate the infection. Read on to learn more helpful information about tooth infections and root canal treatments.
How Do You Get a Tooth Infection?
You have natural bacteria in your mouth, and bacteria can build up as a film or plaque. If left ignored, the plaque can harden into tartar. Both plaque and tartar promote tooth decay. The acids released by the bacteria breaks down the enamel. Cavities can form in the enamel or dentin. However, if they spread to the tooth’s pulp, the tooth usually becomes infected.
You can also get a tooth infection from sudden trauma. If a tooth breaks or an impact kills the pulp, the tooth can easily develop an abscess. For this reason, the dentist may perform a preventive root canal treatment to prevent an infection.
What Are the Symptoms of a Tooth Infection?
For small infections, you may have little to no symptoms. The dentist, however, can usually spot the abscess on routine X-rays. As the abscess grows, however, it can cause severe, chronic, and constant throbbing pain that may not respond to over-the-counter or prescription pain medications. The pain may radiate to other parts of the head, face, and neck, and it may worsen with pressure.
Depending on the location and severity, you may also have visible facial swelling and/or swollen lymph nodes. Many patients also have bad breath and a metallic taste in the mouth from pus. In severe cases, patients may have fever or nausea.
Do You Have to Get a Root Canal Treatment?
You’ve probably taken a dose of antibiotics to treat an infection. While antibiotics are crucial for fighting a tooth infection, they aren’t enough. Without treatment, the infection can easily return repeatedly. Normally, your dentist will recommend a root canal treatment. However, there is an alternative: extraction.
Extraction is cheaper and may be faster than root canal treatment. However, when you get a tooth extracted, you should replace it. If you don’t, the other teeth can shift, affecting your bite and smile. Therefore, if you do choose extraction, you may end up spending more time and money for the extraction and dental bridge/implant.
What Can You Expect During Treatment?
Root canal treatment can be invasive, but you are numb during the entire procedure. Plus, you can ask your dentist about sedation options to help soothe your nerves and make the treatment seem fast. The dentist starts by opening the tooth to remove the decay, infection, and all pulp tissue. The area is then refilled and closed.
Some dentists break root canal treatment up into two visits. After removing all the pulp tissue, they may add more antibiotics to ensure the infection is resolving. Once the infection is resolved, the dentist will finish the root canal. You will need a dental crown after treatment to strengthen the now weakened tooth. A crown will evenly distribute biting pressure on the tooth making it less likely for the tooth to shatter. In rare cases, the tooth can become re-infected, but this usually only happens if some pulp remained in the canals.
If you have severe tooth pain, it may not just be a cavity. Only extraction and root canal therapy can properly treat an infection. Without treatment, you may lose the tooth, and the infection may spread to other parts of the body. If you would like to know more, or if you think you need root canal treatment, contact us at Commack Hills Dental Group today.