Most people cringe upon hearing the words “root canal” as the term has become synonymous with serious pain. Root canal therapy has earned a misleading reputation of being extremely painful. The reality is that root canal therapy is not a painful procedure and it can actually provide immediate relief from any pain and discomfort you’re currently feeling.
What is a Root Canal?
The term “root canal” refers to the cleaning of the canals that are inside the root of a tooth as an alternative to tooth extraction to repair a tooth that is infected or badly damaged. If your tooth has a deep cavity or is cracked, bacteria can enter the pulp and multiply. If left untreated, the decaying material and bacteria can cause a dangerous infection or a tooth abscess to occur. This can lead to bone loss, pulp death or loss of the tooth.
If you’re in need of root canal therapy, you may be in pain or having difficulties eating or sleeping. Sensitivity to hot or cold and swollen or tender gums are also common signs that you may need a root canal. Experiencing these symptoms indicates that you may need professional dental treatment to help save your tooth.
The Root Canal Procedure
Once you are numb and comfortable, we will use small tools to remove any damaged areas of the tooth and create an access point to the pulp. Next the diseased pulp is removed and the root canals and pulp chamber are cleaned and flushed. The tooth is disinfected to clear any infection, and then a sealer paste and rubber compound called gutta percha is placed into the canal. Finally, the tooth will be repaired with a permanent filling, and a crown will often need to be placed to restore the tooth to its full function and prevent it from breaking.
You will be numb for a few hours following your procedure, but you should be able to resume most normal activity right away. We do not recommend eating while you are numb due to the risk of biting your lip, cheek or tongue. Over the counter pain medications and prescription antibiotics may be recommended depending on the extent of your infection.
If you’re in pain or think you may need a root canal, we encourage you to come in for an evaluation so that we can discuss treatment options with you. There really is nothing to fear!