Often, the term root canal sends shivers up the spine, with visions of a long and uncomfortable procedure. However, if you need a root canal, it is the best way to relieve the pain you’ve most likely experienced. It also reduces the risk of further infection. Root canals, also known as endodontic treatment, have come a long way in keeping patients comfortable. They help maintain the integrity of your tooth and are a far better solution than extraction. If you’ve been told you need a root canal, there’s no need to worry. It is a routine dental procedure and will have you feeling yourself immediately following the operation. Here’s what to expect when getting a root canal.
Why is a root canal necessary?
We’ve scheduled you for a root canal because the inner section of your tooth, called the pulp, is infected. This is probably causing you a lot of discomfort or out and out pain because the inflamed pulp is putting pressure on your nerves. Infections set in deep when you have severe decay that has made its way into the center of your tooth. There are several reasons this can happen, but some of the most common reasons are:
- You’ve undergone several treatments for the tooth.
- Your existing dental work has become loose, allowing decay to spread beneath the filling or crown.
- Your tooth was damaged.
- Your pulp is infected.
- You have an abscess.
- Regardless of the reason, the good news is that a root canal will save your tooth and get rid of that pain.
What is a root canal?
A root canal removes the infected pulp and any decay in your tooth. This removes the infection because when signs of decay are removed, we disinfect the tooth. We then fill the area to prevent further decay. The final step is either a filling or a crown, depending on your specific situation. Your tooth is restored and remains healthy with normal function.
Why should I prefer a root canal over a pulled tooth?
The main reason a root canal is always preferred over an extraction is because it saves the integrity of your natural tooth to avoid further dental issues, including shifting teeth, decay, and loss of teeth due to poor bone health.
One of the reasons people often think they’d rather have their tooth pulled is they feel a root canal is costly. However, an extraction is far more painful and costs you more money in the long run. When you have a missing tooth, replacement is far more expensive than a root canal. If you think, “Well, I just won’t get a replacement,” you’d be very unwise. We hate to repeat ourselves, but missing teeth lead to many dental woes, all of which cost more to treat than a little old root canal.
How does a root canal save my tooth?
This is a good question, although, for the most part, we’ve already covered this. To be clear, however, a root canal saves your tooth because it removes decay and repairs damage, so you continue to enjoy a healthy tooth. Your tooth root remains intact, which is far sturdier as it is attached to the bone. It continues to provide stimulation to the jawbone to keep it healthy as well.
What is involved with my root canal treatment?
Your root canal involves two separate appointments, both lasting about 90 minutes.
At the first appointment, we will address the infected pulp. We will numb the area to keep you comfortable and then make a small hole in your tooth to reach the infected pulp. We will remove the infected pulp and any signs of decay, and then fill the empty space to protect your tooth from possible infection. We compress the filling to ensure that it fills the entire cavity and then use heat to secure it. We then either provide a filling while we wait for your crown to arrive.
To accommodate your permanent filling, your tooth is reshaped. If you are recommended a crown, this allows the crown to slide over your tooth for a perfect fit. We then bond it using a special dental cement that will permanently hold it in place.
Does a root canal hurt?
It does not hurt with local anesthesia. This numbing solution prevents you from feeling any discomfort during the procedure.
What to Expect for Recovery
The term “recovery” makes it sound a little worse than it actually is. Once your root canal is finished, you should feel much better. However, as mentioned, you will probably have some discomfort and should avoid chewing in that area for a day or two. By avoiding the area, you’ll also reduce the chances of food contaminating the tooth as it heals. To avoid complications and infection, be sure to continue to floss and brush as usual. If you notice pain, swelling, redness or a sore at the site of the tooth on the gums, give us a call right away. We will have you come in to check for signs of infection. We are very careful to remove any debris left behind from the root canal to reduce the risk of infection. Although rare, it’s best to watch for signs of infection to avoid unnecessary pain.
When we recommend any form of dental treatment, our goal is to help you maintain optimum oral health. We encourage you to ask questions, so you feel 100% comfortable with your treatment plan. We also welcome phone calls to voice concerns, as we would rather know you are fine than have you find out the hard way something is wrong!
If you would like more information about our dental services or wish to make an appointment, contact us today.