Few people look forward to getting a root canal, but a caring and experienced dentist can make the procedure as quick and painless as possible. A root canal can help you to avoid a tooth extraction so that you can retain your own tooth, protecting the integrity of your jaw and dental alignment.
If you are experiencing tooth problems, you may be wondering whether a root canal is necessary and what you might expect from the process.
Do You Need a Root Canal?
A root canal is necessary to remove infected tissue from the passages between a tooth’s roots and its pulp. When this sensitive area becomes inflamed, it can cause significant discomfort. The root canal alleviates this pain by removing both the cause of infection and the affected nerve.
Not all toothaches require a root canal, but there are a few signs that one may be necessary:
- Serious pain when pressure is placed on a tooth
- A bump or abscess on the gums
- Darkening and discoloration of the affected tooth
- Significant pain and swelling around an affected tooth
A tooth may become infected due to damage, decay or gum disease. If you have a tooth that is broken or severely decayed, a root canal may be necessary to save the undamaged parts of the tooth.
How Does a Root Canal Work?
A root canal procedure involves several steps. First, x-rays will be taken to identify the extent of tooth damage and infection. This will determine whether a root canal is necessary or an advisable course of treatment. If your dentist determines that a root canal is the right step, he or she will then utilize local anesthetic to numb the affected area.
Once fully numbed, the dentist will drill an access hole into the tooth. Using specialized tools, he or she will remove all of the damaged pulp and affected nerve tissue. Once the area is totally cleaned and only healthy tissue remains, the tooth will generally be sealed and capped to protect the remaining structure of the tooth.
Why Get a Root Canal?
When a tooth is infected, that infection can become trapped within the structure of the tooth itself or deep in the gums. There it can spread to surrounding teeth, gums and bone, leading to worsened pain and potential damage from inflammation. For this reason, infected tissue must be removed to halt the spread of infection.
In many cases, a root canal is the only way to salvage the physical structure of the tooth when infection is present. Because tooth extractions can cause problems for surrounding teeth, it is often preferable to salvage the tooth whenever possible. For this reason, your dentist may recommend a root canal instead of other treatment options.
What to Expect After the Procedure
Your dentist will provide you with specific after-care instructions. In general, you can expect some mild tenderness near the affected tooth for a few days while the tissue heals and swelling goes down. Once it has healed, you may notice that the tooth feels somewhat different than those on either side, but there should be no severe pain or swelling; be sure to talk to your dentist if this occurs or you have any other concerns.
Your dentist can help you to better understand your available options and guide you through the process so that you understand what’s happening, why each step is necessary and what to expect from recovery. If you are looking for an experiencing and caring dentist in Houston, TX, contact Dan Chu, DDS today!