Dental hygienists have an important job, maintaining the oral health of clients both by cleaning the teeth and examining them for any signs of problems, such as cavities, infections, or gum issues. If you’re seeking a career as a dental hygienist, one common oral health problem that you’ll want to be on the lookout for as you treat clients is an infected or decaying tooth. If a client is experiencing symptoms of this issue, they’ll likely need a root canal treatment. A root canal treatment is a dental procedure which removes bacteria and decay from an infected tooth, during which the dentist removes contaminants from the root, pulp, and nerve of the teeth, and then disinfects, fills, and seals the area.
As a dental hygienist, it’s important to note that the sooner an infected or decaying tooth is caught and treated with a root canal, the better the chances of a successful procedure. Below, discover some common signs that a client may need a root canal, as you can pass this information on to your clients in order to spread awareness.
During Your Dental Hygiene Career, Look for Signs of Tooth Discolouration
Once you become a dental hygienist, you’ll want to look out for signs of tooth discoloration when examining a client’s mouth. Tooth discolouration can indicate that the tooth’s pulp is infected, making the tooth appear gray or black in colour. When the tooth’s internal tissue breaks down, this indicates that it’s not getting a sufficient amount of blood, meaning that the roots are damaged. In these cases, a root canal is needed in order to clear the infected areas and allow the tooth to heal.
Sensitivity to Heat and Cold Can Indicate the Need for a Root Canal
If your client is complaining that their tooth hurts when they drink or eat something that’s hot or cold, this could be a sign that the tooth’s nerves and blood vessels are infected – again, meaning a root canal may be required. If the nerves and blood vessels are damaged, the tooth will be especially sensitive to extreme temperatures, leading clients to feel an ache or pain whenever they consume something triggering. Throughout your career, make sure to determine the cause of tooth sensitivity in order to ensure that clients have access to the necessary treatment as soon as possible.
If a Client Experiences Constant Pain, a Tooth May Be Infected or Decaying
One of the most common signs that a client is in need of a root canal treatment is if they’re experiencing constant tooth pain. While tooth pain can result from a number of different factors, such as cavities, gum disease, filling damage, and more, if a client can feel pain deep within a tooth, or pain in the jaw or face, it’s likely that a tooth is decaying or infected. After completing your dental hygienist training, make sure to explore the possible reasons for a client’s persistent pain, as a root canal procedure might be in order.
A Root Canal Might Be Required if the Gums are Swollen
If a client’s gums seem unusually swollen, this could be a sign that a root canal is necessary. When the tooth’s pulp begins to decay, this results in the buildup of acidic waste products, causing swelling near the tooth’s root tip area. Another common sign of a tooth infection or decay which may manifest in the gums is an abscess, also called a gum boil, which may result from an infection in the tooth. If you notice either of these problems during an oral health inspection, make sure to conduct a further examination.
Watch Out for Chipped or Cracked Teeth
A chipped or cracked tooth is automatically more vulnerable to becoming infected. If a tooth is damaged, the nerves within it may slowly become inflamed, or bacteria can build up and lead to infection and inflammation. As a dental hygienist, it’s important to be especially vigilant when examining a client’s cracked or chipped teeth, especially if they complain of tooth pain. In some cases, the sensitivity a client is experiencing can be a sign that a root canal treatment is needed in order to preserve the tooth.
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