The dreaded root canal — it has historically been known as one of the most unpleasant dental procedures. But the dental industry has come a long way in the past few decades and there are a few misunderstandings about root canals. If you’re experiencing tooth pain, sensitivity to hot or cold, or swelling of the gums, it’s important to visit a dentist as soon as possible, as these symptoms may be a sign that you need a root canal.
At City Dental Care in Hawthorne, our dentists and hygienists are committed to providing exceptional dental care, whether it’s simply time for your bi-annual checkup, or if you are struggling with pain. If you do have tooth pain, it doesn’t automatically mean that you need a root canal; but toothaches don’t often go away on their own, so seeking medical attention will ensure the problem is taken care of. If you’re in need of a dentist, don’t hesitate to contact our team today for an appointment.
What is a Root Canal?
The part of a tooth that is hidden below the gums is considered the root of the tooth (the part above the gum is the crown). Inside the root, below a layer of dentin, is a soft material known as pulp, in which nerves and blood vessels live.
When tooth decay has damaged a tooth, it may cause the pulp to become infected. A root canal procedure involves making a small hole in the top of the tooth and using small instruments to remove damaged and infected pulp and tissue. The inner chamber of the tooth is also cleaned with water to wash away any remaining pulp.
When the inside of the tooth is clean and dry, your dentist will fill the chamber with a rubber-like material. The top of the tooth will be sealed with a temporary filling. After this initial appointment, a follow-up appointment will be scheduled for a couple of weeks after. During this follow-up appointment, the dentist will place a permanent crown on the tooth to replace the temporary filling.
What You Should Know About Root Canal Procedures
Biggest Signs or Symptoms of Needing a Root Canal
- Pain when chewing or biting
- Red dots or pimples on the gums
- A damaged tooth, such as a chip or crack
- Sensitivity to hot or cold
- Swollen or tender gums
- Tooth decay or yellowing teeth
If Pain Subsides, It May Not Mean the Problem is Gone
If there is an infection in the tooth, it is affecting the pulp and nerves, which is what causes the pain. As an infection gets worse, it can cause the nerves to die, which often means that the pain lessens or goes away. But the infection is still there. If the issue is left untreated, the infection can travel into the gums, causing swelling.
Root Canals Shouldn’t be Painful
Your dentist will give you a local anesthetic to numb the area during the procedure. A root canal should feel similar to having a cavity filled. If you are concerned about pain, your dentist can go over all of your options with you.
There May be Soreness After the Procedure
The procedure itself should be relatively pain-free, but the area may be a little sore or sensitive for a few days afterward. Over-the-counter pain medication should be enough to manage any pain within the first few days of the procedure.
Finalizing the Procedure With a Crown
Because a root canal cleans out the pulp from the inside of the tooth, the tooth will need some sort of reinforcement or restoration to protect it from breaking. Depending on the condition of the tooth, your dentist may insert a post into the chamber to ensure that the crown is stable and that the tooth is restored to full functionality.
You Still Need to Protect Your Teeth
During the few weeks in between the initial procedure and the appointment when the crown is placed, it’s essential that the tooth is protected from breaking. Your dentist will go over specifics, but generally, patients are asked to avoid chewing on the tooth and foods that could cause further damage.
After the entire process is complete, the tooth, and your teeth in general, still need to be protected. Brushing and flushing daily and visiting with a local dentist regularly will ensure that plaque and tartar aren’t building up on the teeth, which can eventually lead to tooth decay.
If you are experiencing pain or swelling, it’s important to visit a dentist as soon as possible. At City Dental, we understand that dental procedures can be intimidating, but a root canal is meant to relieve pain and prevent further damage. If you have any questions or concerns, don’t hesitate to give us a call. We’re here to ensure that you have strong and healthy teeth.