Root Canal Treatment
Root canal treatment can save an infected tooth from otherwise certain extraction—it’s a proven procedure that will leave your mouth healthy and strong while restoring its natural appearance.
Root Canal Treatment
At the center of a tooth is an area called the pulp which consists of blood vessels and nerves that give the tooth feeling. The pulp is normally protected by the tough enamel material that surrounds it. However, a potentially serious infection can occur if harmful bacteria are able to access the pulp because the infection will spread to the upper or lower jawbones. This happens due to deep cavities or unexpected injuries. If you don’t receive treatment, you could likely lose your tooth and the bone around it. Root canal treatment is a way to clean out the area inside of the tooth to prevent further damage and infection of the tooth.
What is a root canal?
A root canal is a procedure used to save a tooth when the pulp (blood vessels and nerves inside of a tooth) have become irritated because of a cavity or breakage. In order to save the tooth and eliminate the pain, the dentist has to remove the bacteria, clean out the area in the center of the tooth (this is the canal), and seal it off from new bacteria so the surrounding area is able to heal.
Root Canal Symptoms
A patient suffering from an infected root canal will many times, but not always, recognize that there is something wrong. Often, the patient usually will notice one or more of the following symptoms:
- Severe and intense toothaches that won’t go away
- Sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks
- Swollen and tender lymph nodes
- Recurring abscesses on the gums
A crown will almost always be needed to be placed after the root canal treatment is complete in order to protect the tooth from any further damage and seal off the inside of the tooth from new bacteria and another infection.
How is root canal treatment performed?
Root canal treatment starts with digital X-rays and an examination to diagnose the problem and determine if a root canal is an appropriate treatment for you. Prior to beginning, your dentist will numb you thoroughly so that the dentist can remove all of the decay from the outside of the tooth. The inside, or canal, is then carefully cleaned with an antimicrobial liquid along with mechanical cleaning instruments – we will ensure you are numb and comfortable for this process. Finally, a medicated filling is placed in the roots to seal the canal after it has been thoroughly cleaned before a filling is placed to rebuild all of the tooth structure lost to cavity or fracture . To protect the tooth, a dental crown is placed over the structure to prevent fracture and reinfection.
How long does the pain from a root canal last?
There is a common misconception that root canals are very painful. The truth is, the root canal procedure itself doesn’t feel much different from having a filling done. We ALWAYS numb the tooth before the procedure even starts, so that we keep you as comfortable as possible. Occasionally, however, if the infection is very advanced we may have to provide more numbing medicine once we start working to ensure that you stay very numb throughout the procedure.
Afterward, some sensitivity and discomfort is common while the area around the root canal heals. Gums can become swollen or agitated during the procedure, resulting in mild pain or sensitivity which should subside quickly. After your treatment, your dentist will provide you with special instructions on how to care for your newly treated tooth which can be accessed above!
What are alternatives to root canal treatment?
Most people facing root canal treatment are curious as to whether there are alternative procedures worth considering. Since this treatment is considered a “last line of defense” for restoring your tooth, the only remaining options are to have your tooth extracted or wait to have it removed at a later date. We never recommend waiting as this could cause a severe infection to develop which could mean a trip to the hospital emergency room. We will always consult you and speak truthfully with you regarding the prognosis for the tooth being considered. Almost always it is best to retain your natural tooth with a root canal as opposed to extracting it. This is because if you opt to have your tooth extracted, there’s still the concern of replacing it as soon as possible. Otherwise, the extra space in your bite can throw off the alignment of your surrounding teeth. Two of the more common replacement options include a dental bridge or implant.
If you have any questions or would like to schedule a consultation, contact our office and we'll be happy to help.