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How Do You Know if You Need a Root Canal?

How Do You Know if You Need a Root Canal?

Root canals play an important role in restoring badly damaged teeth and avoiding tooth loss. In fact, their role is so important in dentistry that more than 15 million root canals are performed each year in the United States. That’s just over 41,000 each day on average.

But even though root canals are common, plenty of people are confused about what root canals do and why they’re sometimes a better option than fillings and other restorations. 

As a top-ranked dentist in New York City, Daniel Wank, DDS, is a strong believer in patient education. Here’s what he wants you to know about root canals and how to tell if you might need one.

Root canals 101

Like fillings, root canals are used to restore and repair a tooth that’s damaged by decay. But while fillings treat decay in the outer layers of your teeth, a root canal focuses on decay and infection located in the tooth’s central pulp portion, where the nerves and blood vessels are found. The pulp is located in narrow channels or canals.

A root canal procedure typically takes two visits. During the first visit, Dr. Wank uses special tools to access the damaged pulp and remove it from the canal. Then he carefully cleans the canal, seals it, and fills it with a special material to help maintain the tooth structure. 

If the tooth is infected, he may apply medicine to kill bacteria inside the canal before filling the tooth.

Next, he makes an impression of the tooth and applies a temporary crown to protect the tooth while a permanent crown is made at a dental lab. You come back for a second visit in about 10-14 days to have the temporary crown replaced with the permanent one.

Without a root canal, the infection inside the tooth pulp will spread, leading to tooth loss and even serious jaw infections. Once the pulp is removed, the infection is eliminated, and your natural tooth is preserved. 

When root canals are used

Tooth pain may be the most common symptom if you need a root canal. But not all tooth pain requires a root canal, and a toothache isn’t the only symptom. Most people who need a root canal have other symptoms, like:

  • Tooth sensitivity to cold or hot temperatures
  • Bumps or pimples on your gums
  • Extreme pain when biting or chewing
  • Swollen gums or swelling along the jawline
  • Chronic bad breath or a lingering bad taste

A root canal may also be necessary if you have a badly chipped or broken tooth or a large filling that no longer protects the tooth.

Tooth pain or other symptoms don’t necessarily mean you need a root canal. Other oral health problems could be to blame. In fact, the only way to know for sure if a root canal is the right treatment for you is to schedule an office visit. 

During your appointment, Dr. Wank performs a thorough examination of your tooth to evaluate decay and other issues. After your evaluation, he recommends the most appropriate treatment to restore your tooth and avoid more serious problems, like tooth loss.

Keep your teeth their healthiest

If you have tooth pain or other unusual tooth symptoms, don’t ignore them. These symptoms aren’t just uncomfortable — they’re your body’s way of telling you something’s wrong. 

Ignoring toothaches, gum swelling, and other unusual symptoms allows an underlying problem to become much more serious, and that could mean future treatment will be a lot more complex.

Call Dr. Wank’s office at 607-300-6787 or book an appointment online at our practice on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, New York City. After evaluating your tooth, Dr. Wank recommends the best way to eliminate painful symptoms and help you enjoy a healthier, more beautiful smile.

Daniel Wank, DDS
✆ Phone (appointments): 607-300-6787
✆ Phone (general inquiries): 212-867-0345
Address: 115 E 61st Street, Floor 6, Upper East Side, New York, NY, 10065