If the pulp becomes injured or diseased, it cannot repair itself, and the tissue dies. If there is a deep cavity, a cracked tooth, or a loose filling, bacteria can enter the pulp. The bacteria will eventually destroy the pulp. If the bacteria penetrate through the root openings, it can cause an infection in the bone.
An infection will weaken the bone and break it down. The ligaments around the tooth will swell, and the tooth will become loose. A pulp injury will make the tooth sensitive to high and low temperatures. There may be pain when chewing, and some people have a continuous, throbbing pain. Without treatment, the infection will spread. Eventually, the tooth will become loose and need extracting.
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One of the great fears about this kind of treatment is that it will be painful, but the treatment that is carried out by a trained dental surgeon should be relatively painless. The pain that is felt comes from the infection and not from the treatment. The treatment does not cause pain; it helps to alleviate it.
The dental surgeon will relieve the pain of the procedure by numbing the tooth and surrounding area with local anesthesia. After the treatment, some tenderness is normal. It is temporary, and over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication may be enough to relieve it. If needed, prescription drugs, such as codeine, are available.