A Root Canal is the treatment of a tooth is involving the pulp or nerve space. At Dental On Park in Milton, we pride ourselves in ensuring that root canal treatment are NOT painful.
Prolonged pain sensitivity to hot and cold is usually one of the early symptoms of pulp damage. The pulp is ‘alive’ at this stage but the damage to it has been so great that the pulp tissue is unable to heal itself and will continue to get worse until it degenerates and ‘dies’. Hot and cold expands and contacts the pulp tissue causing pain. Often at this stage hot causes pain which may take minutes to subside and this may be relieved by the placement of cold on the tooth.
In an undamaged pulp the tissue has mechanisms to control this expansion/contraction so pain isn’t experienced.
The cause of pain when a tooth ‘dies’ is the pressure, of the ‘dead’ contents of the inside of the tooth (consisting of dead pulp tissue, debris, and bacteria) on the surrounding bone and gums (periodontal ligament) so the tooth often feels painful to touch yet may not be sensitive to changes in temperature. Symptoms most commonly associated with a ‘dead’ nerve are a tooth that hurts to bite on, becomes sore to touch or push on, and in acute stages, facial swelling can occur.
Common causes for Root Canal Therapy include :
Decay occurring close to the pulp – unfortunately this is not always in just deep cavities. The anatomy of some teeth result in the pulp being close to the surface of the tooth.
Trauma (accidents) – Sometimes the pulp in the tooth ‘dies’ years after trauma and the mechanisms and reasons are not always well understood.
Effect of having large restorations or fillings over a period of time
Irritation over an extended time
Non-painful tooth death – Some people have pulp damage without any symptoms. They have no pain. A dentist may discover a ‘dead’ tooth via radiographs (x-rays) showing bone destruction or in finding a very mobile tooth or finding pus formation or a hole in the bone near a tooth that releases pus slowly (draining sinus). Attention should be paid to removing the infection and healing the bone.
Long term dental infections have been linked to heart attacks and strokes!
Tooth pain that may result in the need for Root Canal treatment may include:
Sensitivity to cold and hot – Severe pain which lasts for some time after the hot or cold has been removed is a sign that the pulp may have irreversible damage. Sensitivity to hot and cold may also be due to dental decay, gum recession or a tooth crack.
Pain from chewing or pressure – This may also indicate a crack in a tooth, or periodontal disease or an endodontic abscess.