A root canal is surrounded by misconceptions and fear, although they deserve neither. As a matter of fact, a root canal can save a tooth that has extensive decay or other damage. This allows the patient to keep their tooth rather than having to extract it. And while some think root canals are extremely painful, in actuality they aren’t any more painful than getting a normal filling. At New Smiles Dental, we perform our own root canals, saving you the hassle of having to go to a separate endodontist.
What is Root Canal Therapy?
Root Canal Causes
Am I a Candidate for Root Canal Therapy?
Your dentist may consider a root canal if you suffer from the following:
- Infected or sick tooth due to decay or injury
- Chronic tooth pain from contact with hot and cold liquids
- Pain from pressure or biting down
- Danger of infection spreading
The signs that a tooth may be infected include pain, prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold, tenderness to the touch. Other signs of infection can include:
- Discoloration of the tooth,
- Swelling or tenderness of the gum tissue that surrounds the tooth
- The appearance of persistent pimples on the gums
Sometimes the patient presents no symptoms, and the infection shows up on x-rays during your routine twice yearly cleaning and exam appointments. If you choose to ignore your symptoms or skip your exams, the tissue surrounding the tooth may develop an abscess. An abscess is a pus-filled pocket that extends up the roots of the tooth. If this happens, the tooth will not be able to be saved and will require extraction.
Benefits of Root Canal Therapy
Root canal therapy is an excellent way to save a tooth that would otherwise die and need to be removed. If a tooth is sick, there are no disadvantages to root canal therapy. On rare occasions, however, root canal therapy may need to be redone to ensure that all of the infection has been removed.
Root Canal Treatment
At New Smiles Dental, root canals may take one or two appointments, depending on a couple variables.
- First, the tooth is numb, along with the surrounding tissue. A dental dam is placed to keep the area dry.
- Then drill a small hole in the crown of the tooth. Through the hole we use very small files to clean out the entire pulp cavity and root canals, removing the pulp, the decayed nerve tissues, and any other debris.
- The tooth cavity is then flushed with water and sodium hypochlorite to remove any remaining debris and to be sure no traces of infected pulp remain.
- Next the clean, but now empty, pulp chamber and root canals are filled with a rubber-based material called gutta-percha and sealed with an adhesive cement.
- The exterior hole is then closed with a dental filling. Sometimes, this is sufficient and the procedure is finished. More likely, however, the tooth will require a crown to protect the tooth and restore function.
- If your tooth requires a crown, we take impressions of the tooth and send them off to a dental lab to fabricate the crown. When it is finished, you return and we place the crown permanently.
All teeth that have had root canal therapy must be protected with a tooth-like artificial covering known as a crown. This is because teeth that have had the pulp removed are more susceptible to fracture.
Does Root Canal Treatment Hurt?
Root canals at New Smile Dental really are not any more painful than a typical filling. During the procedure, the patient feels nothing. Sometimes, the pain that creates the need for the root canal can be confused with the procedure. After the removal of the infected nerves and pulp, your tooth no longer has any nerve feelings, but there will be some residual soreness as the surrounding tissues calm down from the infection. Any pain should be in the form of soreness, and not acute. If acute pain develops again, there is a possibility that not all of the infection has cleared, so we will need to see you again.
How Long Will the Tooth Last?
People assume that removing the pulp containing the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues would mean their tooth would have a limited lifespan. But the pulp is only important to the tooth during growth and development. Once the tooth is fully mature it can survive without the pulp, as the surrounding tissues nourish the tooth. A tooth that has had a root canal can last for the rest of the patient’s life.
Root Canal Alternatives
The only real alternative to a root canal is to remove the sick tooth altogether. However, this will require a dental implant or bridge to fill the empty space and prevent the shifting of surrounding teeth. This will ultimately cost more than the root canal and will never equal the quality of keeping your natural tooth.