Experiencing A Prolonged Toothache? You May Need A Root Canal

The toothache that’s been bothering you is getting worse! You took painkillers, but the relief was only temporary. At this point, you’ve searched up “toothache remedies” on the web at least four times. Why do toothaches have to be so annoying? You’ve booked a dental appointment, but it’s in two days. After much reading online, you’re guessing that you might have an infected tooth. What is the most common treatment for an infected tooth? A root canal dental procedure.

A grimacing man with a toothache holds a purple cloth to his right cheek.
If you ever have a toothache, visit your dentist as soon as possible.
Image by Sam Williams from Pixabay

What Is A Root Canal?

First things first, let’s see what a root canal is. This term may refer to two things: a part of your tooth or a dental procedure.

1. The Part Of Your Tooth

The root canal is the part between the tooth root and pulp. The pulp is the soft centre of your tooth, made up of nerves, tissue, and blood vessels. Blood vessels deliver various nutrients to the nerves and teeth, while the nerves sense pressure, heat, and cold.

2. The Root Canal Dental Procedure

root canal - A dentist performs a dental procedure on a child.
A root canal can also refer to the dental procedure.
Image by Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

A root canal is a dental procedure involving the removal of the dental pulp. This procedure is performed when the pulp is infected or inflamed, often because of decay. Bacteria eats through the top layer of enamel, then the second layer, dentin, before it reaches the core, aka the pulp. That’s when you need a root canal to clean out the decay.

Symptoms Of An Infected Root Canal

How do you know if you need a root canal? Let’s look at a few telltale signs and symptoms:

1. Persistent Tooth Pain

Persistent tooth pain is one of the signs that you have an infected root canal. The pain might bother you consistently, or it might go away for a while but always come back. You may also feel referred pain. It can be dull or sharp on the surrounding area. Whilst tooth pain may be a symptom of other tooth problems, you should always get it checked as soon as possible.

2. Sensitivity To Anything Hot Or Cold

root canal - Three glasses of ice drinks stand in a row on a wood table.
Oversensitivity to hot or cold foods/beverages can be a sign of nerve problems within your tooth.
Image by Susanne Jutzeler from Pixabay

Some people have sensitive teeth, which means they might feel a sharp pain or dull ache when consuming anything hot or cold. However, this sensitivity only lasts for a brief moment. If this pain lingers for a longer period of time, it could mean that there’s something wrong with the blood vessels and nerves within the tooth. You may also feel pain in your tooth when putting pressure on it.

3. Swollen Gums

If the gums around the painful tooth are red and tender, then you might have an infected root canal. While gum diseases can also be the reason behind swollen gums, swelling is often caused by the acidic wastes of dead pulp tissues, which come from an infected root canal. This can also give you a gum boil, that is, a little pimple on your gum, which oozes pus (you do NOT want that). If the tooth is infected, it might also feel looser.

The Teeth-Saving Specialists

root canal - A dentist points to an X-ray whilst talking to his patient.
Have an infected tooth? No fear! The endodotists specialise in saving your teeth with root canals.
Image by Caroline LM from Unsplash

Introducing… the endodontists! Committed to saving teeth, particularly by root canal procedures, they diagnose and treat tooth pain and infections. Their goal is to preserve your natural teeth to the best of their ability. An endodontist will look at all treatment options to determine the best course of action for your teeth. They are experts in their field, as they have completed additional years of specialised training beyond dental school. No one could be better at saving your natural teeth.

The Root Canal Dental Procedure

What happens during a root canal procedure? During the procedure, your dentist will:

  • Administer a local anaesthetic
  • Drill a hole (don’t worry, there’s the anaesthetic)
  • Extract the infected tooth pulp, nerves, and root
  • Disinfect and clean the area with antibiotics
  • Fill up and seal the area to prevent further decay
On a metal tray, there is a variety of dental equipment: cotton balls, gauges, tweezers, pliers, probes, and syringes.
The root canal dental procedure is not too different from a deep filling.
Image by Ri Butov from Pixabay

Your endodontist will try to save the tooth without having to extract it. The procedure is not too complex (it’s not too different from having a deep filling). Your dentist might also take a few X-rays beforehand for a better diagnosis.

Does The Procedure Hurt?

Are you anxious about the procedure since it has to do with digging out the contents of your tooth? No worries! Thanks to today’s technology, a root canal procedure has little to no pain. Your dentist will numb your tooth and gums with local anaesthesia, so you shouldn’t feel a thing. Whilst your mouth may feel sore after the procedure, you can take an over-the-counter pain medication. Almost all people feel better shortly after treatment.

Introducing Soo Dental Surgery

Started in 2005, Soo Dental Surgery and their friendly staff aim to build strong relationships with their patients. Dr Mary Soo and her dedicated team work to give you the best treatment they have. They have dentists specialising in oral surgery, dental implants, prosthodontics, and endodontics. Their clinic is located in Damansara Perdana, Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia.

The reception has a white counter on the left and an orange couch on the right.
You’ll be sure to feel comfortable in their cosy reception area.
Image from Soo Dental Surgery

Specialising in endodontics, Dr Mary Soo is the founder of Soo Dental Surgery who has been in general private practice for more than twenty years. Highly exprienced in the field of endodontics, she is also a part-time clinical lecturer at the National University of Malaysia (UKM). If you need a root canal procedure, then she is just the person you need. So fear not, you’re in good hands!

Dr Mary Soo, stands beside a green chair and dental microscope.
Dr Mary Soo is a gentle and benevolent dental surgeon who can help you out with root canal issues.
Image by Soo Dental Surgery
Three dental nurses stand in front of the reception counter of Soo Dental Surgery.
Meet the dental staff! From left to right: Nur Ain binti Juhari, Puan Sri Banun binti Abdul Malek, and Lisa Stephanie, who are all dental nurses. Off photo: Dr Darren Yap (oral surgeon/dental implant specialist) and Dr Tew In Meei (prosthodontist).
Image by Soo Dental Surgery

Tips From Dr Mary Soo

Dr Soo has some advice she’d like to share. She says to go for regular dental checkups to ensure healthy teeth and gums. As such dental issues are usually easier to fix if they are detected early. The more serious dental problems require more treatment and cost more too. She also adds that brushing and flossing twice daily are the two most important dental work you’ll ever need.

Prevention is better than cure!

Dr mary soo, dentist specialising in endodontics from soo dental surgery

Dental Hygiene Is Key

Keeping your teeth clean and healthy is the best way (and only way) to prevent cavities and other tooth problems. Even though cavities and gum problems are very common, you can reduce oral diseases with the following:

From left to right: toothpaste, tongue cleaner, toothbrush, dental floss, and mouthwash in the background.
Here are some of the things you should use to keep your teeth clean and healthy. From left to right: toothpaste, tongue cleaner, toothbrush, dental floss, and mouthwash in the background.
Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay
  • Brush your teeth twice a day with toothpaste
  • Floss your teeth regularly (and correctly!)
  • Limit the amount of sugary foods you take (they tend to stick to your teeth)
  • Avoid tobacco products
  • See your dentist every six months for checkups
  • Seek professional dental care

You can check out these other articles about dental care. Keep educating yourself concerning dental healthcare. Your natural adult teeth cannot be replaced (dental implants are not as good as the real thing), so take good care of them! Stay safe and stay healthy!


This article is brought to you in collaboration with Dr Mary Soo of Soo Dental Surgery.

Health Disclamer! The information and content in this article should not be used as medical advice or treatment. ALWAYS check with a medical professional if you have any medical concerns.

If you had a toothache, what would be your first course of action?
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About Hazel LING

Friendly, quirky, and a total whiz with words, Hazel is definitely ahead of the rest of her peers when it comes to reading and writing.

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