It’s May, which is once again Save Your Tooth Month in the U.S. While there are multiple reasons why it’s so important to save your natural teeth, the one thing you don’t always hear is how to actually achieve that. As endodontists, saving natural teeth is our mission, and since taking care of your teeth is healthier and less expensive than replacing them with dental implants, we can help you protect your smile throughout your life.
Every endodontist is a qualified dentist, but less than 3% of dentists are also endodontists. As specialists with additional training, we focus on diagnosing pain caused by cracked or abscessed teeth, traumatic dental injuries, and teeth that have been knocked out.
Here are some of the reasons you might need to visit an endodontist to help you save your natural teeth and smile.
1. Sensitivity to Hot or Cold Foods
This symptom can be caused by minor tooth decay, a loose filling, or a small degree of gum recession that results in areas of the root surface becoming exposed. It can also be the result of recent dental work that inflamed the pulp inside the tooth.
You can try using toothpaste made specifically for sensitive teeth and brushing up and down with a soft toothbrush for a couple of weeks to determine whether the problem is temporary or not. If it lasts, schedule an appointment with an endodontist to investigate and diagnose the cause of your tooth pain.
2. Sharp Pain When Biting on Food
This effect can often happen as a result of decay, a loose filling, or a crack in your tooth. If you have any of these problems, you could also have damage to the tissue inside the mouth. If a dentist evaluates your problem and determines that you have pulp tissue damage, you’ll be referred to an endodontist who will perform a root canal procedure to clean it out.
The endodontist will then fill and seal the remaining spaces, so you can no longer develop infections in the root areas.
3. Constant Pain, Swelling and Sensitivity
Ongoing, severe pain and pressure that’s accompanied by swelling of your gums and sensitivity to touch could be the result of an abscessed tooth. This occurs when bacteria invade the dental pulp inside your tooth and cause infection. A pocket of pus develops in the bone adjacent to the tooth and can cause moderate to severe pain that radiates to your ear or neck area.
Endodontists treat dental abscesses by draining the pus and removing the source of the infection during a root canal procedure. Once the abscess is completely gone, the roots are filled and sealed to protect against future infection.
4. Dull Ache and Pressure in the Upper Jaw
Coming out of a two-year pandemic, many people have experienced higher stress levels than at any time in the past. This can lead to stress-related sleep problems such as jaw clenching or tooth grinding (bruxism). Although statistics are difficult to come by, research suggests bruxism affects 15% to 40% of children and 8% to 10% of adults.
One of the primary symptoms of sleep-related tooth grinding is a dull ache and a sensation of pressure, especially in the upper teeth and jaw. The pain resembles a sinus headache, which is also usually felt in the face and teeth, and which can cause serious damage to natural teeth.
A visit to an endodontist will result in identifying bruxism and treatment options such as a custom-fitted nightguard to protect the teeth while addressing the cause of the tooth grinding.
The Specialists in Saving Teeth
Endodontists are specialists in saving teeth. Since they limit their treatments to endodontic care, most endodontists carry out an average of 25 root canal procedures every week, according to the AAE. This means they have far more experience in the procedure than a general dentist does.
This factor enables endodontists to anticipate potential problems and take steps to avoid them much sooner than other dental professionals. Your dentist may well work in partnership with an endodontist, but you don’t have to choose that route.
If you experience any of the types of dental pain described here, don’t waste time. Contact our office for an appointment with a qualified, experienced endodontist who can diagnose and treat the true cause of your pain.