My general dentist started a root canal about two months ago on one of my molars on the upper right side. Unfortunately, I moved right after that. Because it wasn’t hurting I’ve just kind of ignored it. Well, now it’s really flared up, starting about two days ago. It’s swollen all around it (my cheek looks swollen) and there’s lots of pain. I’m so busy and I don’t have time for this!
I don’t have a new dentist in my town yet, so I’m planning on seeing a local emergency dentist. I’m wondering what they will do, can they actually finish the root canal? Or are they just going to pull it? I’d really prefer to save it if possible.
Hang in there. Dental infections are one of those things that can really put a monkey wrench in your plans! Especially at this busy time for you. Though, let’s be honest, is there ever really a “good” time to have a toothache?
Can You Save This Tooth?
Yes, you will certainly want to save this tooth if at all possible. Natural tooth structure is always better than a replacement. Dentists who treat emergencies are capable of most aspects of dentistry, but when they see you, their main focus is just that: your emergency. Depending on the severity, when a patient comes in with an infection the first thing that will be done are actions to address the pain you are in as well as the presence of bacteria. This generally consists of prescribing pain control medications and antibiotics. An image (x-ray) will be taken to determine if the tooth is still viable and to ensure that it is not decayed past the point of rescue.
At times the tooth may need to be opened, cleaned, and allowed to drain if puss and infection have built up within it. This trapped material can contribute to a high level of pain, so allowing the tooth to drain will alleviate some of this discomfort. You’ll be given an antibiotic and asked to give the tooth some time. By time, we are talking days, not weeks. Once the “hot” tooth has been allowed to calm down, the root canal can be completed, either by the emergency dentist or by a specialist.
Will the Dentist Finish The Root Canal?
Sometimes a drain may need to be placed in the swollen area if the surrounding tissue has developed cellulitis (a skin infection). If a drain is placed, you will need to return for it to be removed. At that point, the dentist may be able to clean and finish the root canal themselves. Other times you may be referred to an endodontic specialist once your infection and discomfort have been addressed. This will depend upon many factors, and only the dentist can answer these questions for you.
Once your mouth is healed and pain-free, it’s best to find yourself a great general dentist as soon as possible, to get on the track to your optimal oral health and confidence. Enjoy your new locale!
This blog is brought to you by Hoffman Estates Dentist Dr. William Becker.