Root Canal Treatment
A root canal treatment is a very common dental procedure that’s used to eliminate harmful bacteria from an infected tooth root, prevent tooth loss, and make your smile healthy again.
Though pop culture hasn’t always painted root canal treatment in the best light, you’ll be pleased to know that modern root canal treatment is a relatively comfortable and straightforward procedure. Not much different than getting a routine cavity filling, root canal treatment is actually used to relieve uncomfortable tooth pain and sensitivity!
When is a root canal needed?
Beneath the hard outer layers of enamel and dentin, the core of your teeth contains delicate living tissue called pulp. If a tooth has been damaged due to injury or deep tooth decay, these delicate tissues can become infected or inflamed. The only effective treatment option for diseased tooth pulp is removal; it will not go away on its own or respond to antibiotics.
If left untreated, diseased tooth pulp can eventually cause serious complications. In addition to putting you at risk for tooth loss and bone loss, infection can eventually spread to other parts of your mouth, jaw, and face. In worst case scenarios, the infection can trigger sepsis, which is life-threatening.
If you don’t want to undergo a root canal treatment, tooth extraction is an alternate treatment. To keep your smile full, functional, and healthy following a tooth extraction, Dr. Harris may recommend a dental bridge or dental implant.
Root Canal Treatment Process
During a root canal treatment, Dr. Harris will first provide you with a local anesthetic to create a comfortable treatment experience. Once you’re comfortable, Dr. Harris will create a small opening in the crown of your tooth that will provide him access to inflamed or infected pulp, which will then be gently removed. Once the diseased pulp has been removed and the pulp chamber has been cleaned and disinfected, Dr. Harris will fill the space that’s been created before sealing your tooth with a dental crown. If more than one visit is recommended to complete your treatment, you’ll be fitted with a temporary crown between appointments.
Most patients are able to return to work or school the same day and are able to eat normally after the numbness of the local anesthetic has fully worn off (usually within two to four hours) if a permanent dental crown has been placed. Patients with a temporary crown may need to bite carefully until their permanent crown is placed. While some soreness may present after root canal treatment, most patients are able to manage their symptoms with over-the-counter medication or a prescription from their dentist.
How do you know if you need root canal treatment?
If you have a tooth that’s been damaged due to injury or decay, root canal treatment can help you avoid tooth loss by saving and repairing your compromised tooth. Though the best way to know if you need a root canal is to have an evaluation with Dr. Harris, some signs you may need a root canal treatment include:
- Tooth cracks, chips, or deep decay
- Tooth pain
- Lingering sensitivity to heat or cold sensations
- Pain while chewing or biting
- Swollen, tender, or darkening gums
- “Pimples” on the gums
- Swelling around your face or neck
While preserving your natural teeth is often the ultimate goal, there are some cases when tooth extraction is the best option for getting your oral health back on track.
Had a root canal done this past week, and had been dreading it quite a bit due to a previous experience with another dentist and root canal. It was much more gentle, and I didn’t even need pain meds afterword. Seriously the best staff and dentist ever!