Have a Toothache? You May Need a Root Canal Treatment
Root canal therapy is a safe and effective restorative treatment that can help save your natural teeth from infection and prevent the need for costly and more invasive procedures.
At River Birch Dental, Dr. Georgie Vargas and our expert dental team can perform this treatment to eliminate the infection and preserve your natural tooth. Explore everything you need to know about root canal therapy, including how the procedure works, its benefits, and aftercare instructions from our skilled Centuria, WI, dentist.
What is Root Canal Therapy?
Root canal therapy, also known as endodontic therapy, is a dental procedure that involves removing the infected or damaged pulp from inside a tooth. The pulp is the soft tissue located in the center of a tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues. When the pulp becomes inflamed or infected, it can cause severe pain and sensitivity. If left untreated, it can lead to tooth loss.
Root Canal vs. Dental Filling
If the decay or damage to the tooth is minimal, a filling may be sufficient to restore the tooth. However, a root canal may be necessary if the damage is extensive and has reached the tooth’s pulp. A root canal is a more extensive procedure, but it can save the tooth from further damage or extraction.
Signs You Need Root Canal Therapy
Several signs may indicate you need a root canal. The most common symptoms of an infected tooth include:
- Severe Toothache: This can be a persistent or throbbing pain felt in the tooth or the jaw. The pain may be triggered by hot or cold foods or drinks, and it may worsen when you bite down on the affected tooth.
- Sensitivity to Hot or Cold Temperatures: If you feel a sharp pain when eating or drinking something hot or cold, this could be a sign that the pulp inside the tooth is damaged.
- Swelling or Tenderness: If the area around the tooth is swollen or tender to the touch, this could indicate an infection.
- Discoloration: If the tooth has become discolored or has darkened, this could be a sign that the nerve inside the tooth is damaged.
- Cracked or Chipped Tooth: If the tooth is cracked or chipped, this can allow bacteria to enter the tooth, leading to infection.
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s crucial to see Dr. Vargas right away. She’ll evaluate your teeth and determine if a root canal is necessary.
Benefits of Root Canal Therapy
Root canal therapy is a safe and effective treatment that can help save your natural teeth and prevent the need for extraction. Some of the benefits of this procedure include:
- Pain Relief: Root canal therapy can alleviate tooth pain and sensitivity caused by infected or inflamed pulp.
- Preservation of Natural Teeth: By removing the damaged pulp and saving the tooth, root canal therapy can help maintain the natural appearance and function of your teeth.
- Improved Oral Health: Treating an infected tooth with root canal therapy can prevent the spread of infection to surrounding teeth and gums and promote overall oral health.
- Cost-Effective: Root canal therapy is often less expensive than tooth extraction followed by tooth replacement options, such as dental implants or bridges.
- Long-Lasting Results: With proper care and maintenance, a tooth treated with root canal therapy can last a lifetime.
The Root Canal Therapy Process
Root canal therapy typically involves the following steps:
- Local Anesthesia: Your Centuria dentist will administer local anesthesia to numb the area around the affected tooth.
- Dental Sedation: Dr. Vargas will also administer your preference for dental sedation if you struggle with dental anxiety.
- Access to the Pulp: Dr. Vargas will create a small opening in the top of the affected tooth to access the pulp.
- Removal of the Pulp: Using special instruments, your dentist will carefully remove the infected or damaged pulp from the inside of the tooth.
- Cleaning and Disinfection: The inside of the tooth is cleaned and disinfected to remove any remaining bacteria and debris.
- Filling and Sealing: To prevent further infection, the tooth is filled and sealed with a dental material, such as gutta-percha.
- Restoration: In some cases, a dental crown or other restoration may be placed over the tooth to provide additional support and protection.
Root Canal Therapy Aftercare
After a root canal procedure, it’s essential to take proper care of the treated tooth to ensure its success and prevent future problems. Here are some aftercare instructions to follow:
- Take Pain Relievers as Directed: You may experience some discomfort or sensitivity after the procedure. Your dentist may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers or prescribe medication to manage the pain.
- Avoid Chewing on the Treated Tooth: Until the tooth is fully restored, avoid putting pressure on it by chewing on hard or sticky foods.
- Practice Good Oral Hygiene: Brush and floss your teeth regularly, and use an antimicrobial mouthwash to prevent infection and promote healing.
- Attend Follow-Up Appointments: Dr. Vargas will schedule a follow-up appointment to check your healing progress and ensure that the tooth is fully restored.
Frequently Asked Questions
No, root canal therapy is not painful, as local anesthesia can numb the area around the affected tooth. Some patients may experience some discomfort or sensitivity after the procedure, but this can be managed with pain relievers.
The duration of a root canal procedure depends on the complexity of the case and the number of canals in the tooth being treated. A root canal treatment may take about one to two hours to complete, while more complex cases may require multiple visits.
The healing time for a root canal can vary depending on several factors, such as the extent of the infection, the patient’s overall health, and how well they follow aftercare instructions. Most patients can expect the tooth to fully heal within a few weeks to a few months after the procedure.
It’s usually not necessary to take time off work after a root canal procedure, as most patients can resume their normal activities immediately after the procedure. However, it’s important to avoid putting too much pressure on the treated tooth by avoiding hard or sticky foods and practicing good oral hygiene. If you experience discomfort or pain after the procedure, you may need to take a day or two off to rest and recover.