If you have an infected tooth, root canal therapy can restore the health and beauty of your smile. It can protect you from the serious consequences of a tooth infection–the infection can spread and become deadly. You might be afraid of a root canal treatment, but the truth is that it’s no worse than a typical filling. Discomfort after the procedure is usually less than you experienced before the procedure because of your infection. And it will quickly taper off so your tooth won’t hurt anymore.
Symptoms of an Infected Tooth
Look for the following symptoms to determine if you have an infected tooth, also called an abscessed tooth:
- Discolored tooth
- Foul taste or persistent bad breath
- Discharge from tooth or gums
- Pimple-like sore on the gums
- Local warmth
Pain is what most people associate with an infected tooth. Most of the time, you will experience a toothache. It can be spontaneous and so severe that you won’t be able to work, eat, or sleep. But not everyone hurts when they have an infected tooth. Don’t assume that a tooth is fine just because it doesn’t hurt.
As the pulp inside the tooth dies and is replaced by infectious bacteria, the tooth can become discolored. The bacteria can give off a foul smell or taste, and you might see pus draining from your teeth and gums. You might also see a pimple-like sore on your gums.
Infection often makes an area seem warmer because of the blood and supplies being rushed to fight bacteria. For more serious infections, you might develop a fever.
Root Canal Therapy or Dental Implants
If you have an infected tooth, you might be tempted to have it pulled and replaced with a dental implant. This is also a good option. However, in many cases, root canal therapy and dental implants have about the same success rate. Plus, a root canal treatment can save your natural tooth, which has benefits for your jawbone health. This means it’s often good to get root canal therapy today and reserve the option of an implant for later.
However, you might need to have the tooth extracted if:
- The tooth is too damaged for repair
- Infection needs to be resolved immediately
- An implant fits better with your overall treatment plan
We will talk to you about your options and help you decide which is best for you.
How a Root Canal Works
Antibiotics don’t treat an infected tooth because they can’t get into the interior of the tooth very well. Plus, the interior of the tooth can just get infected again. To control tooth infection, we need to remove the source of infection and seal the tooth against future infection.
We drill into the tooth and clean out the interior, removing bacteria and what remains of your nerve. Then we fill the tooth with inert material that resists infection. We may also install supports to brace the tooth. Finally, we place a dental crown to protect your tooth and restore its beauty.