What is a Root Canal?
The dreaded root canal. Root canals are one of the reasons patients are intimidated by a visit to the dentist’s office. Our first order of business is to ensure that our patients are at-ease about the procedure. While many people may believe that a root canal treatment is painful, most people actually describe the procedure as no more painful than having a filling placed. The discomfort that most people talk about is actually felt in the period leading up to seeking dental care!
Some common signs that you may need a root canal include:
- Severe tooth pain upon chewing
- Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
- Darkening of the tooth
- Swelling and tenderness of nearby gums
- A sore on the gums
Ignoring these signs or symptoms can be detrimental to your oral health, and may lead to further complications including increased pain or an abscessed tooth, or even tooth loss. The sooner we are able to address the issue, the greater chance we have for success. If you are unsure about any of the symptoms you’re experiencing, please contact us for a consultation.
When Would Someone Need a Root Canal?
When the pulp of the tooth, which is made up of nerves and blood vessels, becomes infected or damaged, a root canal is necessary. When this dental pulp is damaged, it begins to break down and bacteria begin to grow within the pulp chamber. These bacteria can lead to infection or an abscess, which is a pus-filled pocket that forms at the end of a tooth’s root.
There is a spectrum from which the nerve tissue is damaged so much, that it is no longer able to heal, and this tissue becomes necrotic.
During root canal therapy, the pulp from the tooth is removed, and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed.
See what we mean by an ounce of prevention is a pound of cure?
What to Expect During a Root Canal
During a root canal, the tooth is anesthetized in the same manner as when a cavity is filled. The anesthetization means that the root canal procedure should be painless.
Treatment will typically be completed in one or two appointments based on the health of the pulpal tissue. The inflamed or infected pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. If your tooth was severely infected, we will opt to place medication in your canals before completing the root canal to effectively decontaminate & disinfect the tooth involved. A temporary filling will be used in between treatments to keep the area sterile. The height of the tooth is reduced so that this new tooth is not an active player in the bite.
With proper care, most teeth that have undergone a root canal treatment can last a lifetime!
After your Root Canal
Afterwards, the tooth is restored with a crown or filling for protection and will continue to function like any other tooth. You may experience pain & tenderness for a few days after the procedure is completed and should avoid chewing on that side of your mouth for a couple of days or until any tenderness has subsided. It’s important to remember that teeth with root canal therapy have a higher percentage of fracture. Airing on the side of caution with hard & crunchy foods is advised.