A root canal, or endodontics, is a set of specialized procedures designed to treat and remedy issues in the soft nerve tissue inside the tooth. When done properly, this procedure should be no more painful than a simple filling.
Root canals have a bad reputation. We’ve heard everything from root canals causing minor discomfort to being more painful than childbirth, but the people saying this oftentimes haven’t had root canals for decades. If you need a root canal done, it is extremely important that you choose the right dentist for the job. These procedures can actually be very quick and painless if done by the experienced hands of a master dentist.
Root canals are performed with an infection or inflammation is affecting the pulp tissue in the center of your tooth. This tissue can be extremely sensitive as it is made of blood vessels, connective tissue, and nerve cells. An infection in this pulp tissue can become of the most excruciating dental pain a person can experience, and if left untreated, it can cause an extremely painful loss of the whole tooth. You could also develop dental abscesses, or experience shooting pain all across your body.
Who Needs a Root Canal?
Make sure that if you notice any tooth pain emanating from the center of your tooth that you talk to your dentist immediately. The earlier an infection is caught, the easier and less painful the root canal will be. Other signs of issues with your tooth pulp can include constant severe dental pain, noticeable swelling in your gums, and extreme dental sensitivity. For most patients, any residual pain from the infection and treatment will subside in a short matter of days. Many patients report having a noticeable drop-off of pain the moment they have a root canal done, sighting the procedure as one of the best sources of pain relief they have ever experienced.
Root Canal Procedure Details
Two appointments are normally needed to complete root canal treatment.
Prior to starting the root canal, Dr. Pearson numbs the affected tooth so you do not feel any pain during treatment. She makes a small opening in the top of the tooth to access the diseased dental pulp, and carefully removes the pulp from the pulp chamber and tooth roots. Dr. Pearson then shapes the cleaned spaces and uses an antimicrobial solution to disinfect the chamber. Next, she fills the prepared spaces with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. The gutta-percha is mixed with an adhesive and completely seals the pulp chamber and tooth roots. Finally, Dr. Pearson places a temporary filling over the opening of the tooth.
At the next appointment, Dr. Pearson removes the temporary filling and places a crown or other restoration over the tooth. This restores the tooth to full function and protects it from future infections or damage.
Root Canal Recovery & Aftercare
Be careful not to eat or drink anything that could burn your mouth as the numbing medicine wears off. And until the treated tooth is permanently restored, avoid chewing or biting on it.
The treated tooth may feel sensitive or tender after root canal therapy, but it should be nothing like the severe pain you may have experienced before treatment. You can take over-the-counter or prescription medication to alleviate any discomfort. Dr. Pearson can recommend additional strategies you can use to further minimize discomfort.
Unless Dr. Pearson advises otherwise, brush and floss your teeth as you normally would after your root canal.
Root Canal Frequently Asked Questions
Is it better to have a root canal or a tooth extraction?
Whenever appropriate, it is better to rehabilitate a tooth rather than extract it. Although modern tooth replacement options are strong and attractive, they are not the same as a natural tooth. That said, there are situations in which extracting the tooth is best for oral health. Dr. Pearson can discuss your options with you and help you make a choice you feel confident about.
Is a root canal painful?
With Dr. Pearson’s gentle touch and advanced techniques, getting a root canal is not painful. She and our team know a lot about pain management and go to great lengths to make the experience as painless and comfortable as possible. In fact, root canal treatment actually alleviates the pain you may be experiencing due to an infected tooth.
If I am not experiencing a toothache or other symptoms, why do I need a root canal?
Some patients who undergo root canal therapy experience little to no pain. Just because you aren’t in pain doesn’t mean there isn’t a problem with your tooth that needs to be addressed.
If the inflammation or infected tooth is not treated with a root canal, it can cause an abscess to form. Also, the infection can spread throughout the body; in some situations, this can be life-threatening.
How can I prevent the need for a future root canal?
Practicing consistent at-home oral hygiene and seeing your dentist regularly for cleanings and exams are the most crucial things you can do to prevent problems requiring a root canal. Limiting consumption of sugary foods and beverages is also important. And, if you play contact or collision sports, wearing a custom-fitted mouth guard can protect your teeth from blunt force injury that leads to inflammation or infection.
Contact Dr. Andie Pearson Today
For more information about root canal therapy, or to schedule an appointment with Dr. Pearson, please contact Essentially Pure Cosmetic & Family Dentistry today. You can give us a call or send us an email.