WHAT IS A ROOT CANAL?
A root canal is an endodontic procedure that treats the inside of the tooth. “Endodontics” is the part of dentistry that deals with treating the dental pulp inside the teeth. The name comes from Greek origins: endo- meaning “inside” and odont- meaning “tooth.”
Our teeth have more layers than you can see. Inside the visible outer layer of our teeth (enamel), there is a hard layer called dentin. Inside the dentin are the root canals and the pulp chamber, which connect to each other. They contain the dental pulp, which is a combination of nerves, small blood vessels, and connective soft tissue. Specialized cells in the pulp help your teeth develop throughout childhood and create the hard, white teeth you have today.
Endodontic treatment either repairs or removes the pulp depending on your symptoms, the doctor’s diagnosis, and what needs to be done. Root canal therapy removes the pulp entirely.
WHY DO I NEED A ROOT CANAL?
The most frequent reason why root canal therapy is required is that the pulp tissue inside your tooth is inflamed or infected. Sometimes the inflammation or infection also affects the gums and bone surrounding the tooth. Having a root canal helps that heal, too.
Several problems could require root canal treatment, including:
- Deep decay
- Injury or trauma
- Inflammation in the pulp following a dental procedure
- Numerous dental procedures over time on a tooth
- Crack or chipped tooth
WHAT COULD MY SYMPTOMS BE?
Experiencing these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean you require root canal treatment. If you’re dealing with any of the following tooth and mouth problems, call your dentist right away. We’ll be able to tell you where your problem is coming from and how to most effectively treat it. Problems that require root canal treatment can prompt the following symptoms:
- Continued sensitivity to hot and cold foods and/or drinks, even well after you’ve swallowed the food/drink
- Discomfort when chewing
- Change in tooth color
- Drainage near the infected tooth
- Swollen lymph nodes and gum tissue
- Sometimes you may have no symptoms at all
HOW DOES ROOT CANAL TREATMENT HELP?
Root canal treatment saves an infected tooth, helps restore its shape, and protects it from further damage. During treatment, we:
1. Remove the inflammation or infection inside the tooth
2. Cleans and shape the walls of the root canals
3. Seals the inside of the tooth with a soft, rubbery material.
After a root canal treatment, we’ll need to restore the tooth to its normal shape and function using other dental procedures.
WHY DO I NEED RESTORATION AFTER A ROOT CANAL?
The buildup and crown restoration we recommend after root canals seal the outside of the tooth. This sealing protects the root canal treatment on the inside. It also restores the tooth to its original shape and restores its original function.
DO ROOT CANAL PROCEDURES HURT?
Our dentists’ goal is to provide excellent patient care and make you comfortable during your treatment. With the latest technology, techniques, and anesthetic, our patients say the procedure is easier than expected. Some patients have even fallen asleep during root canal treatment!
WHAT IS RECOVERY LIKE?
While some patients are pain-free after a root canal, it’s more likely that you’ll experience some discomfort for the first 3-4 days after treatment. If your tooth bothered you prior to the procedure, you’ll feel some pain in it after treatment as well. That pain happens because of the inflammation or infection that was already present in the area surrounding the tooth.
Your dentist will provide you with aftercare instructions and recommend what to take for discomfort. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen and naproxen sodium work very well after root canal treatment. NSAIDs are usually the first choice due to their anti-inflammatory properties. Prescription medications are only occasionally needed. Be sure to follow your doctor’s instructions carefully. Your tooth may also feel different after the recovery phase, but that’s normal. Make an immediate follow-up appointment if you feel significant pain that lasts longer than three or four days after your treatment.
HOW CAN I AVOID NEEDING A ROOT CANAL?
The best way to avoid needing root canal treatment is to take good care of your teeth! Brush twice a day and use floss regularly, preferably daily. If you don’t like flossing or feel you can’t do it very well, pick up some of the plastic-handled flossers in the toothpaste aisle of your favorite store. They make flossing much easier. And don’t forget to see your dentist twice a year for regular checkups and cleanings.
After all your treatment is complete, you will be on your way with a healthier, pain free mouth! If you think you might need root canal treatment, don’t hesitate to call us right away! Our experts can figure out your tooth problem and solve it quickly, safely, and effectively.