Although root canals have a bad reputation, they are essential dental treatments that can save a severely decayed or damaged tooth. Our teeth are made up of three layers: enamel, dentin, and pulp. When tooth decay is able to erode both the enamel and dentin layers, it reaches the pulp, which is composed of blood vessels and nerves. Once inside the pulp layer, the bacteria that cause tooth decay quickly infect the pulp and cause a great deal of inflammation. During a root canal, the infected and damaged tissues are removed, so that the tooth can be restored to its prior state.
Did You Know?
Approximately 15% of Americans avoid seeking dental treatment because of misconceptions and fear. This is especially the case with root canals, as many patients believe them to be very painful. However, thanks to modern dental anesthetics and sedation, root canals are a relatively easy and painless procedure.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How do I know if I need a root canal?
You will need a root canal if you have a pulp infection inside your tooth. Some possible symptoms of a pulp infection can include:
- Sudden, severe tooth pain
- Tooth discoloration
- Swelling around the gums of the affected tooth
- Inability to bite or chew using the affected tooth
- Tooth sensitivity
In most cases, the telltale sign of a pulp infection is the sudden, severe tooth pain. However, to ensure a proper diagnosis, you will need to schedule a consultation with Dr. Ross Quartano and Zach Staples of Magnolia Dentistry.
Do root canals hurt?
Root canals themselves are not painful. During each root canal procedure, our dentists ensure that your mouth is properly anesthetized so that you will not feel any discomfort. We can even offer you dental sedation to keep you relaxed. The pain that most people blame on root canals is actually a result of the infection. Because pulp infections cause general inflammation in the area, it takes a couple of days for the inflammation to dissipate following a root canal. In some cases, over the counter pain medications, as well as hot and cold therapy may be recommended until the inflammation has fully dissipated.
How are root canals performed at Magnolia Dentistry?
At Magnolia Dentistry, root canals are performed by first having our dentists evaluate your symptoms and dental x-rays to make a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Once a treatment plan has been devised, you can then expect to have your mouth prepared for the procedure. Preparing your mouth consists of first numbing the affected area and isolating the tooth with a dental dam. Dental sedation can also be used if you would like.
To start the root canal procedure, a small drill is used to make an access hole on top of the affected tooth. Then, root canal files are placed through this hole and used to clear out and decayed or disease tissue from within the pulp chamber and root canals. It is important that all the decayed and diseased tissue is completely removed, so this step may take some time.
After removing the decayed and diseased tissue, the pulp chamber and root canals are then cleaned using a sodium hypochlorite antiseptic and then flushed with water. This ensures that any remaining bacteria are eliminated prior to sealing the tooth. The tooth will then be packed with gutta-percha, a rubberized material used to provide internal support. Depending on how much of your natural tooth structure was lost to decay or disease, a small metal post may also be inserted for stability.
The final step is to seal the access hole by placing a temporary filling. Eventually a permanent dental crown will be placed over the tooth to restore it, however the tooth needs to heal from the infection first. After the temporary filling is placed, a dental impression will be taken and sent to a dental lab for fabrication of your dental crown.
What should I expect after my root canal?
After your root canal, your mouth may continue to feel numb immediately after your procedure. As you begin to regain feeling, you may experience some minor discomfort or soreness as a result of the inflammation caused by the infection. Although the infection has now been removed, it will take a few days for the inflammation to resolve itself. It is important to note that if you were experiencing pain from inflammation before the procedure, it is more likely that you will feel sore after the procedure. However, this can be managed with over the counter pain medications, as well as hot and cold therapy.
After your root canal, you will also have to take special care to not dislodge or loosen your temporary filling. To keep your filling in place, we recommend avoiding chewing or biting on the side of the filling and temporarily avoiding excessively hard or chewy foods. This will also help your tooth to heal faster and minimize discomfort.
Once your dental crown has been fabricated and your tooth has healed, you can also expect to return to our office to have your permanent restoration placed. To place your dental crown, our dentists will first check its fit and then cement it in place. Once the dental crown is in place, you can resume most of your usual activities.
How do I care for my teeth after a root canal?
After having a root canal and your dental crown placed, you will not have any special care required to keep your teeth healthy beyond your usual dental routine. Your usual dental routine should consist of brushing your teeth twice daily with fluoridated toothpaste and flossing once a day. You should also schedule a dental checkup and professional teeth cleaning with Magnolia Dental at least once every six months. Both of these practices are extremely important if you want to keep your teeth healthy and prevent the need for another root canal.
Additionally, you will also want to avoid damaging your teeth. Certain behaviors like nail biting, ice chewing, smoking, and using your teeth to open packages can weaken your teeth over time and cause them to fracture or chip. In some cases, broken teeth can lead to pulp infections, so you will want to avoid these behaviors to prevent damage to your teeth.
For the highest quality dental treatments and sincere patient care, schedule a consultation with Dr. Ross Quartano and Zach Staples of Magnolia Dentistry today. Magnolia Dentistry provides dental services to the community of Covington, LA and surrounding areas.