What is a Root Canal?
A root canal is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or becomes infected. Inside the tooth, under the white enamel and a hard layer called the dentin, is a soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue, and helps to grow the root of your tooth during development. In a fully developed tooth, the tooth can survive without the pulp because the tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it.
A tooth’s nerve is not necessary to a tooth’s health and function after the tooth has emerged through the gums. Its only function is sensory which is to provide the sensation of hot or cold. The presence or absence of a nerve will not affect the day-to-day functioning of the tooth.
Reasons for a Root Canal
When a tooth’s nerve tissue or pulp is damaged, it breaks down and will rampantly grow within the pulp chamber. The bacteria and other decaying in the tooth can cause an infection or abscessed tooth. An abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms at the end of the roots of the tooth.
A tooth’s nerve and pulp can become irritated, inflamed, and infected due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures on a tooth, and/or large fillings, a crack or chip in the tooth, or trauma to the face.
When the nerve has been affected a root canal is necessary.
What Are the Signs That a Root Canal Is Needed?
Sometimes no symptoms are present; however, signs you may need a root canal include:
- Severe toothache pain upon chewing or application of pressure
- Prolonged sensitivity or pain to heat or cold temperatures (after the hot or cold has been removed)
- Discoloration, or darkening, of the tooth
- Swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums
- A persistent or a recurring pimple on the gums
What Happens During a Root Canal?
A root canal requires one or more office visits and can be performed by a dentist or endodontists, a dentist who specializes in the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and injuries of the human dental pulp or the nerve of the tooth.
The first step in the procedure is to take an X-ray to see the shape of the root canals and determine if there are any signs of infection in a surrounding bone.
Next, we will then use local anesthesia to numb the area near the tooth. To keep the area dry and free of saliva during treatment, we will place a sheet of rubber, or rubber dam, around the tooth.
The next step will be to make an access hole in the tooth. The pulp will be cleaned of bacteria and decay. The cleaning out process is accomplished using root canal files. Water or sodium hypochlorite are used periodically to flush away the debris.
Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, it is sealed. If the root canal is not completed on the same day, a temporary filling is placed in the exterior hole in the tooth to keep out contaminants like saliva and food between appointments.
At the next appointment, to fill the interior of the tooth, a sealer paste and a rubber compound called gutta percha is placed into the tooth’s root canal. To fill the exterior access hole created at the beginning of treatment, a filling is placed.
A crown and post, or other restoration often need to be placed on the tooth to protect it if it has a large filling or extensive decay or other weakness, a crown.
Does A Root Canal Hurt?
This is probably the top question that most people ask. When they hear “root canal,” most patients panic and think there is going to be a lot of pain associated with it.
The fact is that a root canal is designed to relieve you of pain. New dental technology and sedation dentistry allows us to do the treatment while you remain totally comfortable. You don’t ever have to fear a root canal again.
If you need help and your having dental pain, then call our office today at 214-547-1010. Don’t let pain keep you from enjoying your life and doing things you love.