A root canal is a restorative endodontic treatment that is performed on teeth with damaged or infected dental pulp. Your tooth’s soft inside layer is known as the dental pulp which contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue.
It can become inflamed or infected as a result of dental trauma or untreated tooth decay. Tooth infections can only be cured by removing the source of infection so a root canal involves removing the infected dental pulp and filling the inside of the tooth with a material called gutta-percha.
A root canal is not more painful than a routine filling.
To determine the extent of damage or severity of the decay, an oral exam will be performed and x-rays will be taken to get a closer look at your tooth’s dental pulp.
We will administer local anesthesia to numb your mouth before drilling an access hole into your tooth.
All of the tooth’s dental pulp, down to the root, will be scraped out.
Each of the tooth’s canals will be thoroughly cleaned, sanitized, and reshaped. Depending on how many canals there are, this may take multiple appointments.
The inside of the tooth is filled with gutta-percha and a dental crown may be placed over top for additional protection.
A root canal is usually performed in at least 2 appointments.
No, a root canal treatment is not painful because we numb your mouth with local anesthesia before working on your tooth. In fact, root canals actually relieve pain. Tooth infections usually cause significant toothaches, swelling, and abscesses which can cause severe discomfort and difficulty eating.
After your first root canal appointment, we will have removed the source of infection which will alleviate your painful symptoms. You may experience some lingering sensitivity or tenderness in the next few days but this will be mild and can be relieved with anti-inflammatory pain medication.
If you leave your tooth untreated, the infection can spread to other teeth or through the bloodstream. This can cause sepsis, which can sometimes be fatal. The only alternative to a root canal is to have the tooth extracted. While this is an option, you will need to replace the tooth to prevent the consequences of tooth loss.
These consequences include shifting teeth, bone loss, changes in your bite and facial structure, and premature facial sagging. Root canals are 95% effective and can restore the health of your tooth so you don’t need to replace them.
Root canals take longer to perform on the rear molars because these teeth contain more canals.