Root Canals

Did you know a root canal is the most common endodontic procedure used to treat problems in the soft insides of the tooth? These problems often result in significant tooth pain, which means they need an immediate solution. So let us help take away some of the negative stigma around root canals, because they are actually a very routine procedure that can help stop future, serious dental issues from occurring.

What is a root canal?

The inside of your tooth is filled with a tissue mass called pulp, which surrounds the nerves that live in the middle of your tooth. If the pulp becomes infected, it can cause pain and decay. A root canal is a non-surgical procedure that removes the infected pulp from the tooth and then fills that empty space with a nice, clean filling.

Why Would I Need a Root Canal?

If the nerve tissue inside of one of your teeth begins to degenerate, you will need to have root canal treatment. Your tooth can become inflamed and irritated for a number of reasons, from severe decay, to tooth trauma, to repaired dental work, to a chip in the tooth. If the tooth is left untreated, the tooth “pulp” can become infected, leading to a painful abscess. One of the most common symptoms of a needed root canal is the presence of pain or tenderness, and swelling in the gums surrounding the tooth. Other symptoms include discoloration of the tooth and a heightened sensitivity to heat and cold. If it is discovered that the pain is caused by inflamed or infected pulp, then a root canal would be recommended.

Pain is not the only problem that can occur from failing to treat an infected tooth. Eventually, an abscess can lead to damage to your jawbone. A root canal can repair the damage, helping to keep the tissue around the root healthy and allowing you to save your tooth.

What Can Lead to Nerve or Dental Pulp Damage?

Damage to the dental pulp or nerve is often related to severe decay or exposing harmful bacteria into the root canal. Untreated cavities can lead to the decay spreading farther inward into the tooth, causing the nerve to become damaged. When a previous filling has cracked, your saliva’s bacteria can get further in and infect the pulp. Chipped and fractured teeth can also warrant a root canal as the injury can expose the pulp. Injuries to the teeth can even damage the pulp area when there is no visible damage present.

What Can I Expect During Root Therapy?

When you have root canal therapy, you can expect the whole process to take four steps to complete. You dentist will x-ray the area and then administer a local anesthetic. Once you are numb, they will use a series of tools to remove the inflamed nerve tissue and clean all of the bacteria and debris out of the root canal. Cleaning out the root canal is vital to ensure that the swelling and the infection will not return. Once completed, the dentist with seal the root canal to prevent any fluids and bacteria from entering into the open cavity. The third step involves filing the root canal with an adhesive cement mixture combined with gutta-percha. Finally, a crown will be place over the tooth to provide for normal tooth function.

female dental assistant comforting female patient

Does a Root Canal Hurt?

Root canals have a reputation for causing pain, but in reality, its usually the infection that causes the pain, not the procedure. Don’t forget, your doctor numbs the area prior to beginning the procedure! There may be slight discomfort for a few days after your root canal therapy has been completed. Your doctor will provide you with recommendations for over-the-counter medication and in some cases prescribe stronger pain relief and an antibiotic to ensure all infection is removed.

And as always, our team is here to make sure the procedure is as comfortable as possible.