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Root Canals- A Complete Guide

Root Canals- A Complete Guide

More than 15 million root canals are performed each year with more than 41,000 performed each day.

When most people hear the words “root canal” they cringe. But most people don’t have a good understanding of root canals and what they can expect if they need one.

That’s why we’ve put together this guide. Keep reading to learn more about root canals and how this simple procedure can help save your teeth. 

What Are Root Canals?

If you’ve been told you need a root canal or you suspect you might, understanding the procedure can help alleviate anxiety about the unknown. A root canal is a type of endodontic treatment. This means that it treats the inside of your teeth.

The outside of your teeth is made of enamel. But the inside is more complex. Underneath the enamel, your teeth have another layer called dentin.

Under the dentin is the pulp. As the name sounds, tooth pulp is similar to a soft tissue made up of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. These parts create the hard tissues that we recognize when we think of teeth.

The pulp in your teeth helps them grow and develop into healthy adult teeth. But once your teeth are fully mature, they don’t need the pulp anymore to remain healthy. This means that if your tooth becomes infected, your dentist can remove it via a root canal dental procedure.

Root canals work to get rid of bacteria causing an infection in the root canal of your tooth. Your dentist will remove the infected pulp, clean and disinfect your tooth, and seal it back up.

This means that your natural tooth will be saved and you won’t have to have an extraction and implant. Root canals are generally performed under local anesthesia. 

Why You Might Need a Root Canal

Root canals become necessary when the pulp in your tooth is injured, inflamed, or infected. Even though the crown of your tooth may remain intact, the pulp inside the tooth may have died. If the bad pulp is removed, your tooth can be preserved and remain healthy.

Pulp can become damaged in a number of ways. Common examples include:

  • Decay resulting from an untreated cavity
  • Cracks or chips to the tooth
  • Injury to the tooth such as getting hit in the mouth (even if there are no cracks or chips)
  • Repeated dental procedures on the same tooth



So how do you know if the pulp of your tooth might be damaged? The most common symptoms of damaged pulp include pain, swollen gums, and a heat sensation.

If you notice any of these symptoms, especially if your tooth has been injured or damaged, it’s important to get examined by your dentist. They will check out the tooth in question and take x-rays to make a diagnosis. They will be able to confirm whether you need a root canal. 

What to Expect During the Dental Procedure

Root canals have a bad reputation, but they really aren’t that bad. Having this dental procedure done is well worth it to save your natural tooth.

Root canals are performed in your dentist’s office. When you arrive, you will be escorted to the procedure room where you will sit in a chair. Your dental team will put a bib around your neck to protect your clothes.

The Anesthetic

Once your dentist is ready to begin the procedure, they will use numbing medication to numb your gums around the affected tooth. After your gums are numb, your dentist will inject a local anesthetic that will prevent you from feeling pain. While you will be awake during the procedure, you shouldn’t feel any pain.

Pulp Removal

Once your tooth is fully numb, your dentist will create a small opening on the top of your tooth. They will then remove the damaged or infected pulp and clean out the canals in your tooth.

Treating and Preventing Infection

After removing the pulp, your dentist will use a topical antibiotic to get rid of any infection and prevent further infection. After cleaning and disinfecting the canals, they will fill and seal your tooth. You may be prescribed oral antibiotics to take at home. 

Sealant

Finally, your dentist will use a temporary filling to seal the hole in your tooth. This will help prevent damage that can be caused by your saliva.

After Your Root Canal

You may experience some discomfort after your dental procedure. As the numbing medication wears off, your gums might feel sore and swollen. This is normal and your dentist will advise you on how to use over-the-counter pain medications to stay comfortable.

If your pain becomes unbearable or lasts for more than a few days, you should contact your dentist. While you can resume your normal routine the day after your root canal, you should avoid chewing with the affected tooth until it has been permanently filled or fitted with a crown.

You should have a follow-up appointment with your dentist a few days after your procedure. Your dentist will take x-rays to make sure the infection is completely gone and place a permanent filling or crown.

After root canals, it’s important to follow dental maintenance and oral care guidelines to prevent further issues. Getting proper dental care is critical for your overall health. Practicing good oral hygiene at home and getting regular cleanings can help prevent the need for further root canals in the future.

Are You Experiencing Dental Problems?

If you’re experiencing any of the signs and symptoms of infected pulp, you need to see a dentist as soon as possible.

Root canals are an excellent way to preserve natural teeth. You should never suffer with dental problems. Our dental team is here to help you with all of your dental needs, including root canals.

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Double the Impact, Enjoy 20% Off Burst Products

When you donate to this cause, we’ll match your contribution. Plus, for every toy you give, enjoy an exclusive 20% discount on any Burst product you love. Join us in spreading joy and caring for your smile today.

*Non-insured patients only. Only valid for patients in the absence of periodontal (gum) disease. (D0150, D0210, D1110). These offers cannot be combined with other promotions and are redeemable in the absence of insurance coverage.