If you have a decayed, cracked, damaged, or aching tooth, you can save it by scheduling a root canal. This is a simple procedure that makes it unnecessary to extract a tooth, even if it has deep decay beneath the dentin or under a crown. The saved tooth will provide the usual functional and aesthetic uses of natural teeth. The only difference is that it will be immune to the jaw, salivary glands, and oral cavity diseases. If you want to schedule a root canal in Carson, CA, turn to Washington Dental. We pride ourselves on being on the frontline of saving smiles and enriching lives. We can offer the best solutions, irrespective of whether your damaged tooth requires a root canal, extraction, or other restorative procedures.
Teeth have a multi-layer composition. The innermost layer is known as the dental pulp, and it contains a range of connective tissues, including nerves and blood vessels. A root canal procedure involves removing the infected pulp and meticulously cleaning the interiors of a tooth before sealing it. This can treat the pain, alleviate sensitivity and render a tooth extraction procedure unnecessary.
Root Canal Defined
As we mentioned earlier, teeth have a multilayer composition. The outermost layer that gives your teeth their aesthetic appeal is the enamel. This is a thin, white layer that is hard enough to protect the internal parts of your teeth even as you chew or bite.
Underneath the enamel is the dentin. It is yellow, and it causes dentin hypersensitivity (sensitive teeth) if exposed. Underneath the dentin is a chamber with soft pulp packed with connective tissues, including nerves and blood vessels. Bacteria can find their way through the enamel and dentin and into the pulp because of tooth decay or trauma. When decay reaches the tooth’s soft core, the pulp can become infected, inflamed, or necrotic (dead).
Sometimes, an infected tooth may not show any visible damage. This means that the integrity of the tooth structure is unquestionable, yet the pulp is infected. In this case, a root canal can save the tooth from extraction by cleaning out the infection or decay in the tooth’s roots and pulp before reinstating the structural integrity of your natural tooth.
Dentistry has advanced tremendously over the years, and today root canal procedures are completed with minimal discomfort.
Some of the reasons why this procedure may be ideal include:
- Inflammation of the pulp or tooth roots
- Decay of the pulp
- Trauma or injury to a tooth that causes excruciating pain
During a procedure, your dentist will:
- Remove decay and bacteria from the tooth’s pulp and roots
- Disinfect the chamber after removing the soft pulp
- Fill the empty roots
- Seal the chamber to prevent further decay
Root canal procedures are complex. They can be performed by an experienced general dentist or endodontic specialist. They offer one of the surest ways to save natural teeth and prevent further decay.
Is It Worth It To Schedule A Root Canal?
A root canal procedure comes in handy when a tooth’s pulp is infected, inflamed, or dead. This may leave you wondering whether it makes sense to schedule a procedure or simply have your damaged tooth extracted. Because tooth extraction costs considerably less than a root canal, it’s easy to cheat yourself into taking the cheaper way out of excruciating toothaches.
The easiest way to evaluate the actual value of a root canal is to consider the long-term effects and costs of losing a natural tooth. Restorative treatments for missing teeth, including dentures and bridges, are not cheap. Furthermore, fake teeth can never match up the strength of your natural teeth.
It is also worth mentioning that leaving a gap in your dental is not a good option because it may cause the neighboring teeth to shift. This may eventually cause further tooth loss or alter the shape of your face, cause bone loss or lead to functional problems, especially when chewing. Failure to schedule a root canal may very well mean that you have to prepare yourself for costlier dental procedures in the future.
Let’s have a look at the pros and cons of root canal therapy:
- Alleviates tooth pain
- Gets rid of an infected, necrotic, or inflamed pulp
- Prevents infection from spreading
- It eliminates the need for tooth extraction
- Maintains the strength, aesthetics, and function of your natural tooth
- Reduces the need for more expensive restorative treatments for missing teeth
- Root canal therapy is not the most comfortable of dental procedures
- There’s a small risk of pain or infection after a procedure
Telltale Signs That You Require Root Canal Therapy
The easiest way to know whether you require root canal therapy is to seek your dentist’s recommendations. However, certain warning signs may implicate that the pulp of your tooth is infected, necrotic, or inflamed.
Those signs and symptoms include:
If you have a tooth that aches constantly, this is highly likely a clear sign that its pulp is infected. Because of your body’s immune system, the pain may come and go, although the pulp infection is likely not to resolve itself naturally.
It remains imperative to note that a diseased pulp is not the only potential cause of consistent toothache. Other possible causes of the pain include:
- Gum disease
- Referred pain from other issues such as sinus infection
- Tooth trauma
- Damaged dental fillings
When a tooth’s pulp is infected, the pain may be so severe that it is transferred to the jaw, face, and other teeth. Your dentist can help identify the affected tooth and advise you on the best course for treatment.
Sensitive teeth respond with a dull ache or sharp pain when exposed to certain stimuli, including cold or hot foods and beverages. While this may not necessarily mean that a tooth’s pulp is infected, the sensitivity can be treated through root canal therapy. Treatment will, in this case, remove the hypersensitive nerves, alleviating the pain.
Tooth discoloration is a common concern caused by various concerns, including an infected or necrotic pulp. An infection may occur due to bacteria finding its way into the pulp or trauma that breaks down the tooth’s internal tissues. A necrotic pulp turns the tooth grayish black. Apart from tooth trauma, another cause of a necrotic pulp is an infection that prevents proper blood supply to a tooth.
If you notice that your tooth is changing color, see your dentist for proper diagnosis and treatment. A root canal may involve fitting a crown over the treated tooth to make it just as aesthetically appealing as the rest of your dental.
Another sign that may indicate the need for a root canal is swollen gums. If you notice gum swelling close to the aching tooth, this is likely a sign of acidic waste product from necrotic or infected pulp tissues. Often, this swelling will only be outside an affected tooth’s root tip area, although it could spread if you fail to seek treatment.
It is also possible for the acidic waste products from a necrotic or infected pulp to cause abscess, parulis, or gum boils. These are tiny pimples outside the affected tooth that may ooze pus when pressed. Patients with gum boils may also experience bad breath or a constant unpleasant taste in their mouth.
A Damaged, Chipped, or Cracked Tooth
A tooth could be damaged, cracked, or chipped during a contact sport or because of chewing hard foods. When a tooth’s structure is impacted, this could pave the way for bacteria to infect or inflame the pulp.
As aforementioned, trauma can also damage a tooth’s nerves even if it doesn’t cause chipping or cracking. If you experience pain or sensitivity after impact, visit your dentist for proper diagnosis and treatment.
Healthy teeth remain firmly in place even when chewing hard foods. If you notice that a particular tooth feels loose, it is highly likely infected. Tooth mobility is often caused by pulpal necrosis (nerve death), indicating the need for a root canal.
Again, an infected or necrotic nerve produces acidic waste products that soften the bone around the impacted tooth. This is what causes it to move or feel loose.
If you experience any of the above symptoms, don’t panic. Help is available, and the best part is that you don’t have to lose your natural teeth. Even though having a root canal feels scary, the procedure doesn’t have to be painful. Saving your natural tooth will hurt less than having to schedule other restorative treatments for missing teeth.
Does a Root Canal Hurt?
The thought of having the interiors of your aching tooth removed may feel scary. The truth is that a root canal is not the most comfortable of dental procedures, and it’s normal to experience mild aches and sensitivity after a procedure. The good news, however, is that these minor discomforts subside within a few days or weeks.
Technology has advanced immensely in dentistry, and even root canal procedures are not what they used to be decades ago. Today, a good number of patients even attest to the treatment being entirely painless. Think of the process as equally invasive as having a deep filling. Your dentist will administer a local anesthetic, numbing the area to ensure your comfort.
What makes root canal therapy a bit uncomfortable is that the procedure is complex and it prompts working on the impacted tooth for longer. Your dentist needs to ensure that all the pulp is removed, not to mention that the pulp chamber must also be thoroughly disinfected before filling.
Because of the time taken to do a thorough job, a root canal may feel more invasive than it is. Patients may experience soreness or tenderness after a procedure, although this can be remedied using over-the-counter medications such as ibuprofen and Tylenol.
Ways to Prevent the Need for a Root Canal
If you are worried about the pain and discomfort of having a root canal, the good news is that it is possible to avoid the procedure altogether. While there is little you can do to prevent accidents that cause chipping, cracking, or tooth trauma, there is much you can do to keep your teeth clean, strong, and healthy.
Here are a few tips that may help:
- Brush your teeth for at least two minutes, twice daily
- Floss at least once a day and remove plaque between your teeth
- Use fluoride tubes of toothpaste or fluoride mouthwashes
- Don’t forget to visit your dentist at least twice yearly for routine checkups
- Schedule for a professional dental cleaning session at least once each year
In addition to the above tips, you must choose your diet carefully. Avoid too much consumption of acidic or sugary foods. It is also necessary to limit your intake of refined carbohydrates because they tend to stick to teeth. If you eat foods that are not healthy for your teeth, always brush your teeth shortly afterward and rinse with a quality mouthwash.
Root Canal Procedure — Detailed Steps
Root canal therapy involves removing the diseased pulp. Your dentist will need to remove everything, including the tooth’s nerves located within the pulp chamber. This is a complex procedure that can be handled by your general dentist or an endodontist.
Endodontists or endodontic specialists are dentists who specialize in root canal therapy. They undergo two extra years of specialized training to master care and treatment of the inner parts of a tooth, including the pulp. It is usual for dentists to work hand in hand with endodontists when treating patients who need restorative dentistry.
Here are the steps involved during root canal therapy:
Before treatment can begin, your dentist will need to understand your concern in detail. He/she may use digital X-ray technology to examine the impacted tooth and the gums and bone structure surrounding it.
Once the exams confirm that a tooth’s pulp is dead, inflamed, or infected, the dentist will recommend a treatment plan. More often than not, there are various treatment options a patient can explore to save a diseased tooth. Your dentist will inform you about these options and answer any questions you may have.
If the ideal treatment for you is root canal therapy, your dentist will administer a local anesthetic to numb the site that requires treatment. A dental dam is then used to isolate the impacted tooth and keep it saliva-free during the session.
The next step is for your dentist to create a small opening on top of the impacted tooth. This will provide an area for the diseased soft pulp and nerves to be removed.
The complex part of the procedure is over, and your dentist will now shape the tooth’s interiors for filling.
The root canal must be cleaned and disinfected before filling it with gutta-percha. This is a rubber-like biocompatible material used to fill up the empty pulp chamber.
Your dentist will place a temporary filling over the tooth, and you can return on a later date for the placement of the permanent restoration. Often, dentists recommend having a crown placed over the tooth to reinforce it and minimize the risk of reinfection.
Is It Possible For My Tooth To Ache Following A Root Canal?
The simple answer to this question is yes. There is a minimal risk of experiencing pain in a tooth that has had a root canal.
This could happen because of the following reasons:
- The root canal didn’t heal properly
- The root canal wasn’t properly disinfected because of the complex root structure.
- You have a new infection, and the treated tooth has fresh decay
If you experience pain following a root canal, it is crucial to see your dentist immediately. Often, the best treatment for this is re-treatment (another root canal procedure).
Essential Root Canal Recovery Tips
The health of your teeth matters. If you experience anything out of the usual, it is imperative to consult your dentist immediately. Sometimes, early intervention may make the difference between saving your natural teeth and having to undergo restorative dentistry for missing teeth.
A root canal is one of the best treatments for deep decay in the tooth. The following aftercare tips will help expedite your recovery following a procedure:
Be Gentle With Your Mouth
A root canal is an invasive procedure that may leave your mouth a little sore. You can reduce the pain and soreness by doing some careful planning before treatment. First, make sure you eat before the procedure. This will allow you to wait until the numbness wears off for you to require another meal.
Secondly, prepare for the treated area to swell a little. Make sure you have an ice pack in your house and use it to help with the soreness. It is also crucial that you sleep with your head elevated on a pillow to prevent unwarranted irritation on the treated site.
Thirdly, plan your meals wisely for the first few days following a root canal. Choose well-balanced meals that don’t include chewy or hard foods. Smoothies, soups, and soft foods such as mashed potatoes and yogurt are best because they don’t require much chewing.
It is also necessary to keep your mouth free of foreign chemicals by quitting smoking, at least for a few days. This is a small sacrifice to make if you want to heal faster.
Skip Your Exercise Routines
Exercise is good for your mental and physical health. However, your health will still be okay if you skip a few days without exercising following a root canal. Workouts, irrespective of the parts of the body they are focused on, are intensive on your entire body, not to mention that they make the heart pump harder and enhance blood circulation. While these are great perks for your overall health, the freshly treated tooth may bleed or ache if you exercise too soon.
You owe yourself the favor of taking it easy for a few weeks just to allow the freshly treated site to heal properly. After a few days, you can go back to exercising, although it is crucial not to immediately get into a highly intensive routine. Non-stressful exercises like taking a walk can help you keep fit without putting unnecessary strain on the healing site.
Take Time Off and Rest
Even if you feel perfectly okay after a root canal, it is essential to rest and give your body the time it needs to recover. Sleep a bit longer, eat well, stay off your feet as much as possible and be gentle with your body as you wait for the soreness and swelling to subside. The more you rest, the faster your body will heal.
Pay Close Attention to How You Feel
Most patients feel mild pain on the treated site following a root canal. While this is perfectly normal, it is crucial to pay keen attention to how you feel. This will allow you to notice whether the pain subsides as expected after a day or two.
If you still experience many pain days after a root canal, return to your dentist for a checkup. It could be that not all the infection was cleaned out, or there was a problem with the procedure. Typically, the swelling shouldn’t last longer than a day, and the pain medication should keep you relatively pain-free.
Make Sure the Crown Remains Intact
A root canal may leave your tooth a bit weaker. Installing a crown strengthens the tooth, restoring its functions. Usually, your dentist will install a temporary filling or crown, and you can return for more permanent remedies at a later date.
The temporary crown is not designed to last as long as a permanent one. It is hence vital to keep checking how it feels and ensure it remains intact. Again, consult with your dentist immediately if you experience irritation or pain when chewing or biting.
You don’t have to feel scared about scheduling for a root canal. The procedure is relatively painless because your dentist will administer a local anesthetic. The above tips will also help to ensure that your recovery is smooth and speedy.
Find Washington Dental Near Me
Root canal therapy is just one of the best treatments for saving your natural teeth. After a thorough diagnosis to understand the cause of your aching tooth, we will inform you about your treatment options before providing personalized dental services. At Washington Dental, we also provide the best dental restoration options for missing teeth or teeth beyond saving. Our focus is to help you regain your smile’s full functionality and aesthetics, irrespective of the treatment you need. If you require root canal therapy or other dental services in Carson, CA, contact us at 310-217-1507 and let us help you smile with confidence.