Root Canal: A Closer Look
When the tooth gives in to decay and goes beyond repair, what a horror it must be! Everybody knows that the tooth enamel may be the hardest surface in the human body, but when it goes, it goes for good. It does not regenerate. With the enamel gone, the tooth becomes a more vulnerable prey to bacteria and a quicker demise that you cannot just afford. The root canal is the natural cavity within the center of the tooth where the tooth’s nerve lies. When decay infiltrates deep in the tooth, infection is highly possible. This affects the inside of the tooth and the tissue surrounding it. Dentists would then say the situation calls for a root canal procedure.
The root canal procedure saves badly decayed teeth.
This treatment entails the removal of the dental pulp and the nerve – the root canal. The nerve of the tooth in the root canal has but a sensory function. This means it only provides the sensation of hot or cold. This is the nerve responsible for you feeling those “sensitive teeth” when you eat or drink something extremely hot or cold. But when it comes to dental health and function, its presence or absence has no significant impact. So, ultimately, when a root canal treatment is the last recourse, loss of this nerve will not diminish the function of the tooth saved by the procedure.
What are the signs that you might need a root canal?
- Severe toothache. Often times, a toothache is a signal of so many dental problems that it’s hard to pin point the need for a root canal. There is no point rating the pain. It may be easy to rate the pain of a wound or a sore muscle, but a toothache is as notorious as it can be that it can just either be no pain or extreme pain. Nonetheless, an incident of a toothache is not a favorable sign. A toothache signals the need for a visit to the dentist.
The dentist determines if he needs to provide an ordinary filling or something more complex like a root canal.
- Sensitivity to hot or cold temperature. Remember how the nerve in the root canal allows you to feel in your teeth the hot and the cold of what you eat or drink? This sensation becomes stronger because of greater damage on the tooth. Hence, you feel a slight sting most people call “sensitive teeth”. When you feel this on teeth where you normally wouldn’t, think about getting a tooth x-ray. Chances are, tooth decay has burrowed deep and reached the pulp of your tooth to necessitate a root canal treatment.
Darkening of the tooth. A tooth does not typically turn black overnight. It happens gradually over time. When a tooth turns black, it may be due to external or internal damage. Smoking, habitual intake of coffee, and other habits generally cause external damage. A more serious cause bring internal damage to your teeth. Cavities that destroy the enamel causes internal damage. These cavities leave holes that take on a dark appearance. It follows that when a dentist determines that the cause of black teeth is internal, a root canal or extraction is the next step.
- Swelling and tenderness in the gums. The gums that surround the teeth are in a crucial state when there is plaque, tartar, or decay. When decay gnaws through the enamel and reaches the pulp, there is a very high chance of infection. Pus and abscess can fill the pulp and the surrounding gums causing infection. Swelling usually signals the existence of pus and infection. Thus, your dentist needs to examine the affected area and discern if it needs a root canal treatment.
What happens during a root canal procedure?
A single visit to the dentist does not immediately lead to a root canal. There are things the dentist checks prior making a decision to administer the procedure. An endodontist, a dentist whose specialization is centered on the dental pulp and the nerve of the tooth, performs the root canal treatment. Most of the time, if your dentist does not specialize in this field, he or she will refer you to an endodontist. The dentist takes an x-ray of the part of the tooth that’s not visible. The x-ray helps the dentist and the endodontist see the shape of the root canals and find out if there are any infections surrounding the bone.
The process begins with the dentist applying anesthesia on the area near the affected tooth.
The dentist places a rubber dam around the tooth. It is vital that during the process, the area is dry and free of saliva. The dentist will drill a hole into the tooth. This becomes the passage by which the pulp and the nerve will go through when the dentist takes them out. Dentists use root canal files to clean out the area inside the tooth. What happens is utterly important as the dentist scrapes and scrubs the sides of the root canals and flushes out debris with water or sodium hypochlorite. When the dentist is sure that the inside is clean, he or she seals the tooth to permanently keep bacteria out.
At times, dentists would wait a week before completely sealing the tooth.
When there is an infection, the dentist needs to put medication on the affected area inside the tooth. In this case, a the dentist places a temporary filling on the hole to keep saliva and food particles out until the next visit to the dentist to complete the job.
FAQ: What’s the real deal on the root canal pain?
Root canal treatments seem notorious. A lot dread root canal treatments for its reputation. Is it painful? Friends and family who’ve had it may have shown extreme reactions. But believe it that more and more people report that the root canal treatment now is not more painful than getting a tooth filling. Not that getting a tooth destroyed beyond repair is a good idea, but if the need arises, have a little more hope that there is less need to worry.
What DM Dental Group Says About Root Canal
No procedure comes without a little adjustment or slight inconvenience. It’s important to remember that the inconvenience has a far greater trade-off that will ease you for good! Root canals are one of the toughest procedures done by dentists and endodontists. Patients who go through root canal treatment need to have proper expectations set. After the root canal, the tooth may feel sensitive. This is especially true on teeth that have had pain brought about by inflammation or infection. The good thing is you are out of harm’s way after your root canal procedure. The discomfort is controlled and it does not bring any further detriment to your dental health. Most of our patients can return to their normal activities the next day.
Visit us for advice!
Call us and set an appointment at 515-512-5339 or 515-512-5377 or visit us at 8515 Douglas Ave #21 Urbandale, IA 50322 or 2333 McKinley Ave Des Moines, IA 50321.