All About Root Canals
You may have heard some scary things about root canals, but thanks to modern technology you probably won’t be in any pain. Also, root canals are necessary to save your tooth.
Keep Your Teeth Healthy
How does root canal therapy work?
In order to understand the process and purpose of root canal therapy, it is best to first gain a fundamental understanding of tooth anatomy itself. The outer layer of a tooth, or the enamel, is the hard, white portion you see when you smile.
Directly beneath this layer is the dentin, a type of calcified tissue that is slightly softer than enamel but still harder than bone. Inside the dentin is the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissues that allow the tooth to grow. When the tooth is done growing, it can survive without the pulp because it’s supported by surrounding tissues.
If a tooth has been affected by decay and becomes infected, root canal therapy may be the only way to save the tooth.
During a root canal, the infected pulp is removed and the resultant cavity is thoroughly cleansed; it is then filled with biocompatible material called gutta-percha and capped with a custom crown. This crown provides both structural stability and protection from future infection, all while promoting a natural, aesthetically pleasing smile.
Root canal therapy effectively removes the infected pulp of a tooth, eliminating the possibility of further inflammation and keeps the infection from spreading to surrounding teeth. Patients with excruciating tooth and gum pain typically find that undergoing root canal therapy alleviates their discomfort in as little as one visit.
Despite the fact that root canal treatments have been long associated with pain, the experience itself is not that different from getting a regular filling.
We’ll make sure that you are comfortable and relaxed before, during, and after your treatment. Within one to two days following treatment, you’ll finally be free of your toothache pain and the constant discomfort caused by the infection.
Do you need root canal therapy?
You may not notice the need for a root canal right away and there are no painful symptoms associated with the underlying infection.
In cases like these, a digital X-ray and a thorough visual exam will help determine the appropriate course of treatment. In most cases, however, the patient will notice some sort of warning sign or persistent symptom. These include:
- Swelling or tenderness in the gum tissue surrounding a specific tooth
- A severe, persistent toothache
- A visible abscess on the gums
- Extreme sensitivity to hot or cold beverages or foods
- A darkening of the tooth (usually dark gray)
If you or anyone in your family is suffering from these or other unusual dental health symptoms, call us today to schedule your appointment with our caring, experienced team. As is the case with many other oral health concerns, early treatment of an infected tooth can keep more serious problems from developing.
Post-Treatment Care for Root Canal Therapy
What Should I Expect After Treatment?
The area around the tooth that has had a root canal may be tender or sore for a few days as your body heals. Your jaw may also be sore from being held open for so long. You can take over-the-counter pain medication to relieve this discomfort.
If we prescribe narcotic medication, remember that it can make you drowsy and you should be careful if you’re operating dangerous machinery or driving a car.
Your tooth a feel a little different than your other teeth for a while after your root canal, and that’s normal. If you feel severe pain or pressure for more than a few days, contact our office.
Guidelines for Post-Treatment Care
- Don’t eat anything until your mouth has stopped feeling numb. Otherwise, you may bite your cheek or tongue.
- Wait until your tooth is fully restored to use it to chew or bite.
- Brush and floss as you would normally.
- It’s normal for the filling material to wear off a little between appointment, but if you think the whole filling has come out, please contact us.
Contact Our Office Right Away if Any of the Following Happens:
- Noticeable swelling inside or outside of your mouth;
- An allergic reaction to the medication, including rash, hives or itching (nausea is not an allergic reaction).
- Original symptoms return.
- Your bite feels uneven.
Taking Care of Your Tooth
Root canal treatment is only the first step toward a fully functional smile. Your tooth needs to be restored correctly for long-term success.
Contact our office within two weeks to schedule your next appointment. If your tooth is being treated by an endodontist for more one visit, don’t return to your dentist until after the final treatment appointment.
What the Future Holds
A tooth that has been treated well by an endodontist and restored correctly can last as long as your other teeth. After the tooth has been restored, you’ll need to maintain good oral hygiene, including brushing, flossing, regular checkups, and cleaning.
We’ll X-ray the tooth periodically to make sure it’s healed properly. Sometimes a tooth doesn’t heal, or pain continues.
At times, the tooth may become painful or diseased months or even years after the end of successful treatment. If this happens repeating the procedure can usually save the tooth.