Teeth are hard on the exterior because of a hard coating of dental enamel. But within runs a chamber that is filled with dental pulp which comprises nerves, tissue and blood vessels. Sometimes decay begins to set in to the pulp starting a chain of infection.
The reasons for decay are several, but the commonest is a cavity in the tooth, or perhaps some damage to the tooth. This is accompanied with swelling, inflammation and pain in the area surrounding the tooth.
At this stage a dentist has to decide whether the pain is caused because of a gum abscess or infection, or whether the cause is a nerve abscess. In the former case the treatment may not entail a root canal procedure. But if it is the latter, then the dentist has to make an overall assessment about the extent of decay and decide on the best course of treatment.
Sometimes, a root canal procedure is indicated even when there are no obvious symptoms. Two of the most common symptoms that suggest that a root canal is necessary are:
- Chronic tooth pain.
- Tenderness or swelling in the gum adjacent to the infected tooth.
Other conditions that indicate necessity for a root canal are as follows:
- A problem with the tooth that was identified only by an x-ray. Nerve tissue within the tooth could decay and become necrotic without pain or any other symptoms. This situation arises when the body’s natural defense mechanism is able to limit the extent of decay while not totally being able to overcome it.
- A chronic pimple on the gum. This is the result of a tooth with a dead nerve. The pimple is a drain, called a fistulous tract, which appears off and on, and discharges pus.
- An exposed nerve that leads to degeneration of nerve tissue. This condition could lead to a painful abscess and further complications of the tooth.
- Teeth trauma caused due to an accident. The nerve tissue could have been damaged indicating the need of root canal treatment.
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