If you dread the thought of a root canal, you’re not alone. The root canal procedure earned a reputation for being painful years ago, but dental care and pain control today is much more technologically advanced than in the past. Root canals are actually quick and fairly painless procedures. They are definitely less painful than living with a damaged and infected tooth!
What Is a Root Canal?
A root canal is a dental procedure to repair and save an infected or damaged tooth by cleaning the infection and decay out of the canals in the tooth’s root. It’s similar to filling a cavity in some ways but different in others. A standard cavity filling is used when tooth decay remains in the outer layer of the tooth. A root canal is recommended if the decay or damage extends deep into the inner portion of the tooth.
Your teeth may be hard on the outside, but each tooth has a soft center called the dental pulp that reaches down into the jawbone. The pulp contains blood vessels, connective tissue, and nerves. Bacteria can get into the dental pulp through a chip, crack, or deep cavity, causing infection or a painful abscess. As a result, the pulp tissue can die and eventually lead to bone or tooth loss.
What Symptoms Suggest a Need for a Root Canal?
If you have an infection or abscess in a tooth, pain in your tooth, face, or jaw might be the first sign of a problem. Other symptoms may include:
- Abscess on the gums
- Heat/cold sensitivity
- Swollen gums
- Pain to the touch
- Tooth discoloration
- Wiggly tooth
There are other causes of tooth pain that radiates to the jaw or face, but prompt treatment is best for all of them. If you’re experiencing tooth pain or any of these symptoms, it’s important to be seen as soon as possible for an assessment and treatment.
What Happens During a Root Canal?
One of the first steps in a root canal is to take X-rays to assess damage to the tooth. Before the procedure, you will be given a local anesthetic, so you don’t feel pain during the root canal. Then the tooth is shielded with a dental dam to keep it dry and clean during the procedure.
The procedure is similar to a filling and doesn’t take much longer. An opening is made through the tooth to reach the pulp, then uses small instruments to remove infected and damaged pulp. Then, your dentist will flush and clean the root canal. When it’s dry and clean, it will be filled with a rubbery compound to keep saliva and food particles out.
A goal of a root canal is to save the tooth, but it will typically be covered with a protective crown that is tinted to match the color of your teeth. It may also be replaced with an implant, bridge, or partial denture.
If You’re in Pain, Don’t Be Afraid to Call Us
We know dental work can make people anxious. We’re here to answer your questions and help you feel as comfortable as possible. Most of all, we don’t want you living with pain when we can help. Call us today if you think you might need a root canal. You’ll feel so much better when your teeth are healthy again!