What to Do about Root Canal Pain By Daniel Whiteman D.M.D. on February 13, 2015

An older man with a healthy smileIf you are experiencing pain in or around a tooth, the underlying cause may be unclear at first. While tooth decay is a common reason for toothaches, other problems such as enamel erosion or receding gums may also be to blame. However, when pain is more acute and located near the roots of teeth, a trip to the dentist is definitely warranted. In the case of root canal pain, it is likely that a patient is suffering from decaying roots, in which case restorative action should be taken as soon as possible.

Root canal therapy can be the difference between a preserved tooth and a replaced one. If you are experiencing pain around your roots, decay is a very real possibility, especially if you have previously suffered from cavities or gum disease in that area. With the right treatment at our Brookline dental practice, you can keep your smile healthy. 

Types of Toothaches

While a generalized toothache may be indicative of multiple problems, most types of toothaches can be more clearly discerned by their location and level of discomfort. To get a better idea of what might be causing your pain, note the differences between these common types of toothaches:

  • Chronic pain within a tooth’s crown: If your tooth seems to hurt from the center of its crown (above the gums), and this pain occurs fairly regularly, you may be suffering from a cavity. A dental exam with X-ray images should be able to spot any areas of decay.
  • Sensitivity to temperature: If your tooth hurts when exposed to hot or cold temperatures, the inner dentin tissues may be exposed due to erosion or a receded gum line. Recent fillings may also be to blame. However, prolonged sensitivity even after the temperature changes may indicate a problem in the roots.
  • Chronic, sharp pain near the roots: Like a regular cavity, tooth decay may be the culprit for acute pain closer to the roots and gums. But once the roots begin to decay, restorative action must be taken quickly in order to keep the tooth from decaying completely.

Other Symptoms of Root Decay

Root pain should be reason enough to schedule a dental exam, but if you also have any the following symptoms, the chances of decay are that much more likely:

  • Heightened pain while chewing or applying pressure to teeth
  • Discoloration of a tooth near the gum line
  • A history of progressive gum disease and/or exposed roots
  • Swelling or sensitivity in nearby gum tissue
  • An abscess in the gums, especially if prolonged or reoccurring

Even if the toothache is bearable and does not significantly impact your quality-of-life, identifying and treating the cause of this pain is far better than allowing the problem to become a greater complication in the near future.

Root Canal Treatment

In the event your root canal pain is indeed related to decaying roots, restorative treatment will be recommended - mostly likely root canal therapy. This treatment is similar to treating a cavity with a filling, but in conjunction with removing infection from the roots.

First, tissue will be removed from the crown so that the dentist may directly treat the underlying roots. The infected dental pulp will then be removed from the root canal, and the canal will be cleaned and treated with antibiotics. The roots will then be filled with a special material to preserve their health and reinforce their strength, before the remaining cavity is filled with a traditional dental material such as composite resin. In most cases, a tooth undergoing root canal therapy will also require a dental crown afterward, to ensure it is protected and preserved from future injury or stress. With successful root canal treatment, a tooth can be restored to health rather than die of decay and require full replacement.

Be Proactive in Your Dental Health

Don’t wait to treat any dental or periodontal problem. Even if the problem is minor, proactive and preventative treatment can save a lot of money, pain, and trouble in the long run. Schedule your next appointment with us to keep your teeth as healthy as possible. 

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Dr. Whiteman

Whiteman Dental Associates Daniel M. Whiteman, DMD

Dr. Daniel Whiteman is dedicated to providing exceptional care at his Brookline, MA, practice

  • Licensed to practice in the U.S., Canada, and Israel
  • Over 20 years in practice
  • Uses state-of-the-art technology
  • ADA-compliant office
  • General, cosmetic, and restorative treatments
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To schedule your consultation, contact us online or call us at (617) 731-4746.

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