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Root Canals


Root canals are dental procedures that are used to restore a severely decayed or infected tooth by removing the tooths bacteria-infected nerve, (tissue) housed in the center of a tooth. Once the nerve tissue and pulp within the tooth cavity becomes infected, bacterial growth within the chamber accelerates, which can quickly lead to an abscessed tooth – (a pus-filled cavity that forms at the bottom of the tooth root). This abscess and bacterial spread can lead to further infection deeper into the oral cavity, as well as facial swelling, bone loss, or drainage into the gums, cheek and skin.

What is the process of getting a root canal?

A complete root canal treatment may require one or more visits depending on the severity of the case. First, we will take an X-ray to assess the level of infection to the nerve and surrounding bone. Next, you will be given a local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth and put your mind at ease during your procedure. A rubber dam (mask) will be placed around the tooth to keep the area dry, then a hole is opened directly into the tooth to reach the nerve tissue and pulp for removal. The removal of the nerve tissue and pulp at the center of the tooth is completed using a combination of root canal files, which are used to scrape and scrub the entire chamber, water or sodium hypochlorite is used to rinse out the debris and disinfection. You will not feel any of this because the area in numb.

In some cases, a medication may be applied directly into the root canal before it is sealed with a rubber paste compound. In cases where a root canal is not sealed on the same day as the procedure, a temporary filling is used to cover the hole and keep away food particles and saliva. If further tooth restoration is needed, a dental crown or other restoration may be placed to restore the tooth.

Once the nerve is removed, the day-to-day function of the tooth remains the same; however, sensations, such as hot and cold temperatures, are no longer felt. In the first few days after your procedure, the area around your tooth may be tender. Over-the-counter pain medications can be used to help reduce any pain or discomfort. To avoid soreness and possible breakage of the tooth, chewing on the tooth should be avoided immediately after the procedure. A final restoration (crown) should be placed before you start chewing on the tooth.

When are root canals needed?

Root canals are a highly successful treatment option for those with damaged or decaying teeth and can last a lifetime with the right care. Signs that you may need a root canal include severe toothache or prolonged sensitivity to temperatures, discoloration of the tooth, swelling or tenderness of the gums, or an abscess that forms on the gums. If you have the same symptoms on a tooth that already has a root canal a retreatment of the root canal (redoing the root canal) is necessary. If all of the above fails then extraction is the last resort. If you are experiencing pain, discoloration or sensitivity around a tooth, contact our office today to schedule your initial consultation to see if a root canal is the right treatment for you.