What is a root canal?
Often, patients get uncomfortable when they hear that they must get a root canal. Here at Smile Dental, we are here to assure you that there is no need to worry about having a root canal procedure done. A root canal procedure is simply a treatment that is done in order to save and repair a badly damaged or infected tooth. A root canal is an alternative to having an infected tooth removed.
Deep inside the center of each tooth is soft tissue known as the pulp. The pulp contains the tooth’s nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. A root canal is needed when there is severe infection in the pulp caused from decay or trauma. Once the pulp has become infected, it causes severe pain and discomfort, and must be taken care of immediately in order to stop the infection from spreading.
Why would I need to have a root canal procedure?
Here at Smile Dental, we treat patients needing a root canal for many reasons. Some of the most common reasons that the pulp has become infected and a root canal procedure is needed is:
- Deep decay in the tooth
- Several dental procedures have been done on the tooth and it has become severely weakened
- Faulty or weak dental crowns
- Severe damage to the tooth
Usually before a root canal is needed, there are signs and symptoms that are affiliated with the pulp being infected. A few of the most common signs and symptoms include:
- Persistent pain in a localized area
- Sensitivity to heat or cold in a specific area
- Prolonged sensitivity to pressure on the tooth
- Dark Discoloration of a tooth
- Gums around a specific tooth are swollen, inflamed, and bleeding
- Large fillings
- Trauma to the face causing the tooth to become chipped or broken
What is the process for receiving a root canal?
When you come to our office experiencing dental pain, the first thing we will do is take a series of dental x-rays in the area causing pain to check the extent of the infection. Once the x-rays have been completed and we have a better understanding of your situation, you will be given a local anesthetic to numb the tooth and surrounding area. Next, a protective barrier, also known as a rubber damn, will be placed in your mouth around the tooth in order to keep the tooth dry and free from saliva. The rubber damn will isolate the infected tooth, preventing the tooth from becoming further infected.
Using a specialized instrument, a small hole will be drilled into the tooth to provide access to the pulp. The pulp, all bacteria and debris, and the nerve tissue that has been damaged will be removed. Once the infection has been removed, the canals of the tooth are then flushed and thoroughly cleaned. Depending on the severity of the infection, medication may be administered into the canals to clear the tooth of any infection. Next, the canals will then be filled with a sealer paste and rubber compound that will help to keep the interior of the tooth strong. The access hole that was created at the beginning of the root canal, will be filled to prevent bacteria from entering the tooth.
Usually a root canal is needed if the tooth has had extensive decay or a large filling that has weakened the tooth. The final stage in the root canal process will to be to have a crown placed to give structure and support to the tooth. Having a crown placed on top of the tooth will provide protection and will restore the tooth back to its normal function.
Will I feel pain during or after the root canal?
There is a misconception that root canals are painful. In fact, what most patients are experiencing when they have pain is due to the severe infection or inflammation that is within the pulp of the tooth. While most people can expect some discomfort during and after a root canal, excessive pain is not normal.
Here at Smile Dental, we want you to know that your comfort is our main goal. During the root canal you should not feel pain or discomfort. We will do our best to make sure that you are comfortable and use numbing agents to ensure that during the procedure you won’t feel anything.
After the procedure, and a few days after, you may experience sensitivity or swelling, in the area of the root canal. The pain is caused by the inflammation of the tissue in the area. To minimize the discomfort, we can prescribe you medications such as Tylenol or Ibuprofen based on our consultation with you. Most patients, however, can and usually return to their normal routines within a day or two of receiving a root canal without any pain. If you are experiencing extreme pain after a root canal, it is important to call our office immediately for further evaluation.
If you need to have a root canal done, or you would like more information regarding root canals, please call our office and one of our helpful staff members will be happy to assist you.