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Root Canals

An option to save a tooth

Natural teeth are meant to last a lifetime. Even if one of your teeth becomes injured or decayed, it can often be saved through a specialized dental procedure known as root canal. Root canals involve the removal of the tooth’s pulp or “nerve.” Once removed, this pulp is replaced with materials to seal off the canal from surrounding tissues.

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Post-operative Care Following a Root Canal

The mouth is an extremely sensitive part of the body. Dental treatment of any kind requires taking extra care of the area after operation. Whether you have had a routine procedure, or something more complex like a tooth extraction or periodontal surgery, there are several important steps you can take to maximize the results of your procedure, prevent infection, and ease any discomfort you might experience. If you have any additional questions about your procedure or if you are experiencing abnormal bleeding, swelling, severe pain, or any reaction to medications, please do not hesitate to contact us.

  • Until your root canal procedure is completely finished and the permanent filling or crown is in place, it is wise to minimize chewing on the tooth under repair.
  • Upon completion of treatment, the tooth may feel sensitive for a few days due to natural tissue inflammation. This can usually be controlled with over-the-counter analgesics such as ibuprofen (e.g., AdvilMotrin) or naproxen (e.g., Aleve).
  • Most patients can return to their normal activities the next day.

Root Canal

“So what is a root canal? A root canal is basically a filling in the part of the tooth that you don’t see, which is the root. The root is underneath the bone and the gums. [A root canal] is really no different than a filling that you get in the crown portion of your tooth, which is above, where we remove all the diseased portion of the tooth. We disinfect it, and then we seal it up with a filling material. It sounds a lot worse than it really is, but it’s pretty much the same as just getting a filling, it’s just in a different part of the tooth.

Why do we get a root canal? Damage to the nerve. There’s a couple different reasons why we get this damage. Number one can be trauma — if you get hit in the face playing sports, always wear a mouthguard. One of the other ones is decay, and the last one is when we see cracks on the tooth.

The most common symptoms of [needing] a root canal are hot and cold sensitivity, biting pressure, or a lot of times you also see some swelling. Most of the time you’re gonna know that there’s something wrong with the nerve of your tooth and most of the time when people come in they already know that they’re gonna end up maybe getting a root canal.

One really important thing to remember is root canals are not as bad as the media and maybe your grandparents have told you they are. In the past, we had to use these little tiny files, and we’d use our hands and it would take hours and hours and hours. Now, we have these really cool tools that have motors on them and the anesthesia is a lot better. Like I said, it’s just like a filling, we get you numb — you shouldn’t feel a thing, and it should go pretty quick. With the new tools we have, it usually goes in about half the time sometimes as little as a half hour for a root canal.

Here at MFDA, we’ve got several dentists or doctors that do perform root canal therapy. It’s really pretty simple: we get you numb, sometimes we stop, we take x-rays to make sure we know where we’re at, and then we usually put a temporary filling in at the end to make sure everything’s feeling better — and then at the end couple weeks later we have you back for the permanent filling, or for a crown.

So if you hear “root canal,” it’s not the end of the world. We’ll take care of you!”

Commonly Asked Questions About Root Canals

Are root canals a painful procedure?

While root canal procedures have the reputation of being painful, most people report the procedure itself is no more painful than having a filling placed. The discomfort experienced before seeking dental care is truly the painful period of time, not the root canal procedure itself. Some patients listen to music during the procedure to relax. We can also use a tool called the DentalVibe to alleviate the discomfort related to receiving the local anesthetic. Learn all about it here.

What damages a tooth’s nerve or pulp?

Nerve or pulp can become irritated, inflamed, and infected in the following ways: deep decay, repeated procedures on a tooth, repeated procedures on a large filling, a crack or chip in the tooth, or trauma to the face.

What are the signs that a root canal is needed?

  • Severe toothache upon chewing or application of pressure
  • Prolonged sensitivity/pain to hot or cold temperatures
  • Darkening of the tooth
  • Swelling and tenderness in the gums or face
  • A persistent or recurring pimple on the gums
  • Sometimes no symptoms are present

What is the success rate for root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment is highly successful — the procedure has more than a 95% success rate. A tooth with a root canal can provide years of service similar to adjacent teeth that have not been treated. In most instances following a root canal, a crown is required to restore and strengthen your tooth.

What are the alternatives to a root canal?

The only alternative to a root canal procedure is having the tooth extracted and replaced with a bridge, implant, or removable partial denture, which are needed to restore chewing function and prevent adjacent teeth from shifting.

Please request an appointment online for a dental treatment consultation with one of our dental professionals.

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