How Does Root Canal Treatment Work?
When you lose a tooth, it not only affects your smile but causes many other problems too. The bone tissue is no longer stimulated by biting or chewing and you experience jawbone loss. This, in turn, can cause various other problems such as the drifting and loosening of your remaining teeth, headaches and pain in your jaw.
A root canal is a common dental procedure that can help us to save your tooth instead of having to extract it. Many people fear having root canal treatment, thinking of it as very painful, but in fact, it isn’t any more uncomfortable than having a filling placed.
How to Know if You Need a Root Canal
If you have any trauma to your tooth, a large cavity or decay, this can affect the root of your tooth. It can become infected and inflamed due to bacteria entering the pulp (soft tissue). The pulp contains nerves and blood vessels and you may experience swelling and pain. When the pulp is infected by bacteria, it begins to die and the bacteria can multiply and spread.
Even if you don’t experience pain, the bacteria can penetrate the bone that keeps your tooth in the jaw and eventually it may need to be extracted. If the pulp is infected, it cannot heal by itself and you need root canal therapy.
You may need root canal therapy if you experience the following symptoms:
- Severe toothache
- Difficulty chewing
- Ongoing sensitivity to heat and cold
- Swelling and tenderness
- An abscess or pimple on the gum
In the past, it was common to just pull out the infected tooth but today we know that saving the tooth is better for overall dental health. At an initial consultation, your dentist will take x-rays if he suspects you need root canal treatment. He will examine the x-rays and speak to you about the treatment so you know what to expect.
What to Expect During Treatment
While you’re having the procedure, our team will do everything we can to make you feel as comfortable as possible. We use local anesthesia to numb the nerves around and inside the tooth. You can discuss the use of dental sedation with us if you’re very fearful of this procedure.
Root canal treatment involves removing the pulp inside the tooth, including any bacteria and decay. We will numb your tooth and keep it dry with a rubber dam (a sheet of rubber). We will make an opening through the crown of the tooth to allow us to access the pulp chamber. We place several root canal files of increasing diameter into the opening to remove the pulp, including the bacteria and nerve tissue.
Once we have extracted the pulp, we disinfect the interior to kill the remaining bacteria and prevent new bacterial growth. We insert a rubber-like material into the tooth to seal it, and help with repair and healing.
This material is called gutta-percha. You may need to have a small rod inserted into the gutta-percha to help support the interior of the tooth as well as the filling or cap which we will place on top.
After completing the root canal, we place a temporary filling over the opening, giving it time to heal. At your next visit, we’ll place a permanent filling or cap over it to protect the tooth from bacterial contamination and restore it to its full function.
We can complete root canal therapy in one visit. Although, if the infection is severe, you are likely to need more than one visit. You may need to take oral antibiotics to treat severe infections.
It’s important to look after your teeth while recovering from treatment. Try not to bite on hard foods until your treatment is complete. After the final treatment, you shouldn’t experience pain in the restored tooth, but it may feel sensitive for a few days. You can take over-the-counter painkillers to relieve discomfort.
Root canal treatment has a high success rate. The restored tooth can last for many years as long as you go for regular dental exams, cleaning and practice good oral care.
What to Expect After Treatment
Once you’re given anesthesia, the procedure goes quickly. After the root canal is completed, a temporary filling is placed over the opening in your tooth until it’s had time to heal. Shortly after, you’ll come back to have a permanent filling or crown over it.
Once your root canal is completed, and the new filling or crown is placed, following up with proper dental care will ensure your dental health. Regular dental cleanings and checkups, and seeing your dentist immediately with any tooth changes or trauma, will help prevent another root canal.
Call to Book an Appointment Today!
It is important that you visit your dentist if you require root canal treatment because it can help save and prevent an infected tooth from getting worse. Contact our office if you have any questions regarding our services or about this procedure, including how to care for your teeth after. We look forward to hearing from you!