Is A Root Canal A Dental Emergency?

A root canal is one of the most common emergency dental procedures. It’s used to treat a badly infected tooth or a large cavity and prevent a permanent extraction. 

But how do you know if that toothache really needs a root canal? How is an emergency root canal done? Find out the answers in this short blog post!

Signs You Need an Emergency Root Canal

A tooth infection or large cavity isn’t like most toothaches. They can present with intense symptoms that keep you up at night and even prevent you from eating or concentrating on your daily activities.

Some signs you may need an emergency root canal include:

  • Severe, throbbing pain
  • Heightened sensitivity to heat and cold
  • Swelling
  • Pain when applying pressure (such as during eating)
  • Tooth discoloration
  • A crack or loose tooth 

In severe cases, a tooth infection can also spread to nearby tissues, such as the gums or jawbone, or cause a fever.

It’s crucial to treat an infected tooth right away. With time, the bacteria inside continue to multiply and spread, which increases your risk of losing the tooth permanently. 

Moreover, the infection can lead to sepsis, a life-threatening complication that requires immediate medical attention. 

How Is an Emergency Root Canal Performed? 

Here are the basic steps for an emergency root canal:

  • Consultation: First, the dentist will look at the tooth and even get an x-ray to determine the full extent of the cavity or infection.
  • Numbing: Then, they will inject a local anesthetic to numb your tooth and ensure you don’t feel any pain during the procedure.
  • Cleaning: The dentist will drill the tooth to reveal the infection and remove all the bacteria, including from the narrow chambers of the root, known as the canals.
  • Disinfecting and sealing: Once the infected tissue is removed, the tooth is disinfected to kill off any remaining traces of bacteria.
  • Reconstruction: Root canals may warrant a simple filling, but if the infection is large, you could need a dental crown to restore the tooth.

Most root canals are done in one visit, but it depends on the size of the infection. Sometimes, a large infection could mean patients need a few days of antibiotic therapy first and then a root canal.

In these cases, the local anesthetic won’t take effect, and patients would be in too much pain to sit through the procedure. Splitting the treatment into multiple visits is much more effective and comfortable for the patient.

Dealing with an Infection? We Can Help 

If you’re experiencing the signs of a tooth infection, let Dr. Jamie Knox or Dr. Lisa Ding remove your discomfort and treat your tooth with root canals performed with a caring touch.

Request an appointment at Smiles of Bulverde online or call us at (210) 907-8666 to find out more about our services and how we can help.

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