What is a Root Canal?
A root canal is the center of the root of a tooth, but the more common usage of the term refers to a type of endodontic (that’s Greek for ‘inside of tooth’) treatment that relieves the pain of an infected tooth or an abscessed tooth.
Our teeth have a soft inner core called the pulp that serves to nourish the tooth during development. The pulp also contains nerves and blood vessels, but once a tooth is fully developed, it can survive without the pulp. Sometimes, due to tooth decay, an abscess, a cracked tooth, injury or other reasons, the pulp may become infected. Often an infected tooth can be very painful.
But thanks to advanced dental science, we can save the tooth by removing the pulp and filling the inside-including the root canals-with a filler material and then restoring the top so you have a healthy, functional and natural looking tooth.
Does a Root Canal Hurt?
Almost always–no. The truth is that a root canal procedure relieves pain. A root canal is legendary for being extremely painful because many years ago, dental technology was far less advanced than it is now. The pain that you feel today is from the infection before we begin. We use local anesthesia and most people who undergo root canal treatment feel comfortable during the procedure. Although, for a few days afterward, there may be some sensitivity. This is especially true if you had pain before the procedure, and it’s mild enough to be relieved with over-the-counter medication.
Of course, if you are experiencing extreme pain or anxiety due to the infection and fear of root canal treatment, we offer sedation dentistry to put you at ease.
How Does a Root Canal Work?
We begin by making you comfortable. Whether it’s sedation dentistry or local anesthesia, soon you’ll be relaxed and your toothache will begin to recede.
We check to make sure you’re comfortable and then we protect the tooth from saliva with a dental dam; that’s a piece of rubber that acts like an upside-down umbrella. We then dry the tooth and remove any fillings while entering the core of the tooth with very precise instruments.
Throughout the procedure, you’ll hear us ask if you’re okay. We’ll regularly check X-Rays, too and use tiny measuring tools as we remove the infected pulp while being careful to leave the healthy part of the tooth in place.
Once the pulp and the infection is removed, we fill the root canals with a rubber-type material called gutta-percha.
A temporary filling goes on top, and once you’re healed, we’ll often finish by placing a dental crown on top. As a result, your tooth will be restored to full health.
Do I Need a Root Canal?
A tooth infection that has gone too deep is very painful and can cause a range of potentially debilitating issues. It’s important to remove the infection and assure that it doesn’t enter the jaw bone. If you’re having a problem with any of the following, a root canal may be right for you:
- Persisting Chronic Toothaches If you have a toothache that just won’t go away, it’s likely because of a tooth infection. We’ll be able to tell if a root canal is recommended to relieve your pain.
- Abscesses An abscess is an infection in or around the root of the tooth. It happens when the pulp dies and becomes inflamed. A root canal can help remove the abscess and stop the infection from getting worse.
- Swelling Around Teeth Often, swelling around teeth is an indication of a tooth infection. If you’ve noticed swelling around one of your teeth that just doesn’t go away, you might have a deep infection that a root canal will resolve.
- Severe Sensitivity Tooth sensitivity can be caused by a number of things, including a deep root infection. If you have severe sensitivity along with other issues, a root canal may be the answer.
Modern root canals are effective and comfortable to undergo. At White Family Dental, we are always sensitive to your pain and anxiety about going to the dentist. We’ll take the time to explain the procedure and recommend the best options.
Don’t suffer any longer because of the myths associated with root canals. Root canals actually relieve painful toothaches.
Call today and we’ll relieve your pain and your fears.
Have questions about root canal therapy? Contact us today for more information.