GETTING TO THE ROOT OF THE PROBLEM
Root canals do not deserve their bad reputation. The truth about root canals is they are an effective way to relieve pain and pressure in your mouth. Dr. Nicole M. Paxson uses root canals as an effective way of saving teeth that might otherwise be lost to infection. The procedure itself is no more uncomfortable than getting a filling.
A root canal is necessary when infection or inflammation develops in the soft pulp (nerve) tissue inside a tooth. The infection can cause intense pain. The pain may temporarily disappear, but the underlying infection will not go away. Left untreated, the infection can lead to a dental abscess or even cause problems in other parts of the body.
How do you know when you need a root canal? Sometimes, it’s painfully obvious. If you feel constant and severe pain and pressure in your mouth, or notice swelling and extreme sensitivity in your gums, then it’s clear you need an evaluation and treatment right away. Another telltale symptom of pulp tissue damage is a sharp pain when you bite down. Lingering pain after eating hot or cold foods is also an indication of potential trouble. If you notice any of these symptoms, you need to have an examination as soon as possible.
What to Expect During a Root Canal
If we suggest a root canal, don’t worry. It’s a routine and effective procedure that often requires just one trip to the dentist. We’ll outline the steps here because some patients feel unwarranted stress about the procedure.
- First, Dr. Paxson administers an anesthetic to numb the tooth and surrounding area. This is the same way we begin an appointment for a filling. For most patients, the worst is over as soon as this step is completed.
- Dr. Paxson creates a small opening in the surface of the affected tooth to access the pulp chamber and root canals. She uses tiny instruments, sometimes with the aid of a microscope, to remove dead and dying tissue. She then cleans and disinfects the chamber and empty canals.
- Finally, she fills the chamber and empty canals with an inert, biocompatible material and seals the opening with an adhesive cement to prevent future infections.
For a few days after the treatment, your tooth may feel tender. Generally, over-the-counter pain relievers are effective at relieving the pain. In some cases, Dr. Paxson may prescribe pain-relieving medications. During this period, it helps if you can avoid biting hard on the affected tooth. All of these symptoms should be temporary.
To further protect the tooth and restore it to full function, it’s usually necessary to have a crown or other restoration placed on it. Restorations can take many forms, from traditional gold crowns to tooth replicas made of high-tech tooth-colored material.