If you have a tooth that is hurting constantly, spontaneously, for a long time in response to cold, heat, or pressure, you may have an infected tooth. An infected tooth is when bacteria from your mouth create a cavity that reaches the interior of your tooth where they can grow undisturbed by brushing, flossing, and your body’s natural mechanisms for eliminating them. As a result, they can quickly grow to kill the living part of the tooth and spread to other teeth or even your sinuses and brain. A root canal removes the infection and restores your tooth to function. Although people fear root canals, the truth is that the procedure doesn’t cause pain, it reduces it.

If you have been told you need a root canal or think you might need a root canal in Orange County, please call (949) 551-5902 or email Rice Dentistry in Irvine today for an appointment.

Signs You Might Need a Root Canal

You need a root canal if you have an infected tooth. The most common symptoms of an infected tooth are:

Illustration of a root canal procedure

Root canal procedure

  • Spontaneous tooth pain
  • Severe tooth pain that keeps you awake or wakes you up at night
  • Long-lasting pain in response to heat, cold, or pressure
  • Tooth that grows discolored in the absence of trauma
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Swelling or pus in the gums

Although many people think that pain is the only indicator that a root canal is necessary, the amount of pain a person experiences as a result of an infected tooth varies greatly. Some people may experience little or no tooth pain. Other times, you might feel tooth pain as headaches.

What Is a Root Canal?

The purpose of a root canal is to remove the infection from your tooth and restore the tooth to full function while preventing future infection.

In a root canal, we remove the infected material from the interior of the tooth. Then we fill the tooth with an inert material that has similar properties to the natural pulp so it can support and cushion your tooth. Then we place a dental crown on top of the tooth to protect it.

Nothing to Fear from a Root Canal

Many people fear root canal procedures, but the truth is that the procedure’s reputation comes from the early days of dentistry, 100 years ago or more, when anesthesia was less precise than it is today. Today, you will be completely anesthetized during your root canal so you will likely not feel any discomfort.

As you recover from the procedure, you will experience some discomfort, but most people experience less discomfort than they were experiencing before their root canal. The pain relief is essentially immediate, and within the first week you will feel much better than you did before the root canal. After that, pain from your root canal will continue to diminish and soon will disappear completely.

If you are still anxious about the procedure, sedation dentistry can help.

Root Canal or Dental Implant

An important question to consider when you have an infected tooth is whether you should have a root canal or have the tooth removed and have a dental implant placed. The choice really depends on the condition of your tooth.

If your tooth can be restored, that is generally best. Root canals and dental implants have similar success rates, both in the short-term and the long-term. If you have a root canal first, you will likely get decades of life out of it. Then when it fails, you can have it replaced with a dental implant.

On the other hand, if your tooth is in poor condition, it’s best to remove it to avoid potential future infections or damage that could be caused by a failing tooth.

The only way to know for sure is to talk to a dentist who can evaluate the condition of your tooth. For a consultation about a root canal in Orange County, please call (949) 551-5902 or email Rice Dentistry in Irvine.