Root canal therapy is a restorative dental procedure used to save severely damaged or decayed teeth. They become essential when the innermost layer of the tooth, known as the pulp, becomes infected by bacteria. During a root canal, the entire contents of the pulp chamber and root canals are removed in order to stop the infection and prevent it from spreading to the adjacent teeth. The affected tooth is then restored using a dental crown.
Did You Know?
Despite the fact that root canals are commonly associated with pain, the pain is actually caused by the pulp infection, not the root canal procedure. In fact, since root canals remove the infection, they actually help to alleviate tooth pain.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Do I need a root canal?
You will need a root canal if you have a pulp infection. While some pulp infections don’t produce symptoms and can only be detected from dental x-rays, most pulp infections are associated with the following symptoms:
- Sudden and progressive tooth pain
- Tooth sensitivity to hot and cold
- Abscess or pimple on the gums
- Swelling and tenderness around the affected tooth
- Discoloration of the affected tooth
If you think you have a pulp infection, it is recommended to call our office immediately for an appointment. Pulp infections can continue to get worse the longer you wait to get them treated.
What can I expect during a root canal?
During a root canal, your dentist will make a tiny access hole in the top or side of your tooth. They will then use a series of root canal files to remove the decayed tissue, blood vessels, and nerves from the inside of your tooth. The empty pulp cavity and root canals will then be cleaned to prevent future infection before they are filled with a rubber-like material known as gutta-percha. In some cases, a small post or two may also be placed inside the tooth for additional support. Finally, the access hole will be sealed with composite resin and the entire tooth will be covered with a dental crown.
Will I need to follow any special instructions after having a root canal?
After having a root canal, you may experience some residual soreness due to inflammation from the infection. For this reason, you may want to eat softer foods for the first few days, as well as use ice and over the counter pain medications to manage your discomfort. In most cases, your pain will gradually subside in the days following your root canal.
Can dental sedation be used?
Yes! Dental sedation, also known as anxiety-free dentistry, is ideal for individuals who have dental anxiety, a sensitive gag reflex, or for those who simply want to relax during their dental procedure. Your dental sedation options include:
- Nitrous Oxide
- Oral & IV Sedation
- General Anesthesia
For more information about dental sedation, visit our dental sedation page or call our office to schedule a consultation.