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Whether you have a persistent toothache or prolonged sensitivity, root canal symptoms can be incredibly painful. A root canal becomes necessary when the pulp, or innermost portion of the tooth, becomes infected or inflamed. During treatment, the endodontist can carefully remove compromised tissue, clean and shape the canals, and fill the space to restore its structural integrity. If you are experiencing signs of an infection, contact your doctor as soon as possible. A root canal can save your tooth from extraction.

Diagnosing an infection

Sometimes, an infection presents with no symptoms at all. However, your dentist would be able to identify an infection using x-rays or other advanced images. Most dentists take periodic x-rays as part of routine dental care. These images allow the dentist to see beneath the gums to the dental roots and jawbone. A dark spot around the root of a tooth, known as a radiolucency, could be a sign that the root is damaged or infected. An x-ray may also reveal decay, which appears as a dark spot within the tooth.

Common Symptoms

The pulp of a tooth can become infected or inflamed due to deep decay, trauma, or repeated dental work. There are several indications of an infection:

Pain

The most common symptom of an infected tooth is pain. Pain can come in the form of sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, or a severe toothache prompted by actions like chewing or biting. The extent of pain can vary from patient to patient and may present itself consistently or intermittently. Sensations may be throbbing, dull, or sharp and they can affect an isolated area of the mouth or extend to larger stretches of the smile. 

Swelling

Swelling can also be a telltale sign of an infection. Nearby gums can swell and become tender. In some cases, inflammation can extend to the face and neck. At times, swelling may be accompanied by pain or a bad taste in the mouth.

Discoloration

An infected tooth may appear dark or discolored. However, you should also keep an eye out for yellow, white, or gray spots on a tooth, as these can be signs of decay. When left untreated, decay can spread to the pulp chamber. 

Pimple on the Gums

When a tooth is infected, a pimple-like growth can form on the gums. The technical term for this growth is a sinus tract, but you may also hear it called a fistula. The appearance of this pimple signifies that an infection is draining, and it may be accompanied by a bad odor or taste.

Keep in mind that dental pain can be caused by one of many conditions, so the best course of action is to consult a dentist if you are experiencing discomfort. 

If you are experiencing signs of an infection, you should contact your doctor immediately. Whether a tooth is infected and needs root canal treatment or simply has a small cavity, it will not heal on its own. In fact, postponing professional dental care will only allow the condition to worsen, which could result in the need for more invasive and costly solutions. Seek a dentist’s advice early, and attend biannual checkups and cleanings to ensure your teeth and gums remain healthy.

Practice Policy Update Regarding COVID-19 View Update Virtual Consultation

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YOUR TREATMENT PLAN

To Our Family of Patients,

After much thought and concern for the health of our patients and team, I would like to share with you my thoughts on how the Coronavirus outbreak in the United States can best be managed at our practice. The key issue is prevention. Social distancing is the best solution at this time to prevent the spread of the virus.

Therefore, in conjunction with the South Carolina Dental Association recommendations, I have decided to close our normal practice operation with the exception of emergency and urgent care situations, through the end of March, 2020. I will be available for you and your family for emergency and urgent needs. Please call my personal cell phone if you have any questions or if you need an office visit. I am here for you.

After we have weathered this storm, we will be here to see that you continue to have the excellent care that you and your families deserve. We thank you for the trust that you place in our practice. We look forward to a long and healthy relationship in the future.

My cell phone number: 843-224-0517

To Your Good Oral and Systemic Health!

- Dr. John F. Rink, DDS, AAACD

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