Root canals are one of the most misinterpreted services that dentists provide. There is a general, incorrect belief that root canal treatments are painful. Not true!
Infections inside of a tooth occur when tooth decay stretches deep enough to reach the tooth pulp. If the decay-causing bacteria infect the pulp, then the pulp needs to be removed. If you do not have it removed, the infection will spread to the surrounding tissues, producing abscesses and other nasty conditions.
The procedure is generally comfortable and saves the natural tooth, prevents the spread of infection, and returns the smile to complete health
Common Questions About Root Canals
There are several reasons that your tooth may become infected, leading to the necessity of root canal therapy, including:
- Deep decay that extends into the pulp
- Cracked or broken tooth or fillings
- Repeated dental procedures
- Severe toothache pain from chewing.
- Your tooth hurts longer than it should after exposure to hot or cold temperatures.
- Darkening or discoloration of the tooth.
- Swollen and tender gums surrounding a tooth, or “pimple” on your gums
- Bad taste in your mouth
- Dental abscess.
- Random pain, especially if it wakes you at night
- Without treatment, the infected tooth’s pus can spread to the root tip and eventually pass to the jaw bone.
- This can cause an abcess (a pus pocket) that can damage the bone that surrounds the tooth.
- The pressure this causes can cause excruciating pain and, left untreated, can be life threatening.
- An infected tooth can not heal on its own and will only get worse with time.
- Dr. Faiella will start by assessing your symptoms and performing several tests that determine the vitality of the tooth. An x-ray will be taken to look for an abscess in the tissues surrounding the tooth.
- If Dr. Faiella determines that a root canal is necessary, she may prescribe an antibiotic prior to initiating the procedure. Depending on the tooth and severity of infection, she may refer you to an endodontic specialist for the procedure.
- Before the procedure begins, the doctor will completely numb the area using a local anesthetic. Once the area is numbed, a rubber dam is placed around the infected tooth to protect the mouth and prevent anything from falling into the throat.
- In order to access the infected tooth pulp, an opening is made through the top of the tooth to get down into the pulp chamber. A tiny instrument, called a dental file, is then carefully used to clean out the infected tissue and to shape the root canals to receive a filling. X-rays may be done to ensure that all of the infected pulp is removed before the filling is placed.
- The canal is then disinfected, filled and sealed.
- In most cases, a crown is placed to protect and strengthen the tooth. However, if the tooth is severely broken down, it may be necessary to start by building up the tooth with a post and core. This is usually done in a separate visit.
- It’s normal to experience some discomfort for several days after a root canal therapy appointment, especially when chewing.
- It is not uncommon for a tooth to be uncomfortable or even exhibit a dull ache immediately after receiving root canal therapy. This should subside within a few days (or even weeks).
- The doctor will discuss pain medication recommendations with you after the procedure. Very often over-the-counter Ibuprofen or Tylenol will be sufficient for pain control, other times you may be prescribed something stronger.
- If you were prescribed an antibiotic, it is important you finish the complete course, even if you already had the root canal.
- If a temporary restoration was placed after the root canal, as is the case in most situations, avoid eating any hard, crunchy, or sticky food in the area until you can follow up with Dr. Faiella for a more permanent restoration.