Excel Dental Blog

Everything You Need To Know, But Were Afraid To Ask, About Root Canals

Springfield, MO – Have you recently been told you need root canal treatment to repair a tooth? Millions of these are performed every year, so it’s a procedure you’ve probably heard about. But do you actually know what happens during one?

Tooth anatomy“We hear about root canals all the time,” says Dr. Tracy Davis of Excel Dental. “But while the term is common, we realize you may not know everything that goes into one. And we think it’s very important that all of our patients are well-informed and understand procedures before they’re done. That gives us the best opportunity to discuss proper care, and to relieve any concerns or fears they may have.”

Root canals are procedures that are done to repair and save teeth that are badly decayed, injured or infected. During the procedure, your Ozark dentists will remove the nerve and infected parts of the tooth. Then they will disinfect the inside of the tooth. The tooth will then be sealed, and repaired with a crown or filling to ensure it functions properly following the procedure.

“This cleaning out and sealing of the tooth is very important,” says Dr. Nick Matthews. “If the infection is left untreated, that infection can spread to other tissues and abscesses can even form.”

Inside your tooth is a space called the pulp cavity. In that area lies both the pulp and the root of your tooth. This is the living tissue that keeps the tooth alive and healthy. The pulp includes the nerves, blood vessels and connective tissues, and when this pulp becomes inflamed or infected, you’ll need a root canal.

But what causes this infection? If your tooth becomes severely decayed or you’ve had repeat dental procedures on it, infection could occur. Additionally, if you’ve damaged or injured your tooth in anyway by chipping it, cracking it or breaking it, you can damage the root or leave it susceptible to infection.

When your tooth’s nerve or pulp become damaged, they begin to break down. Then, bacteria begins to build up, leading to infection or an abscessed tooth. When a tooth abscesses, a pocket forms and fills with pus, typically at the root of the tooth. Infection can cause swelling in your face, head and neck, bone loss, and drainage problems.

The pulp of the tooth can become inflamed, which can then cause swelling and pressure inside the tooth. This can then lead to tooth pain, and if not taken care of right away, the pain can intensify as the infection spreads to other tissues.

How do you know if you may need a root canal? It’s best to seek the professional advice of a dentist, but if you experience any of the following, you should schedule a visit:

  • Severe tooth pain, especially when chewing or applying pressure.
  • Prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold.
  • Tooth becomes discolored.
  • Gums become tender or swollen
  • A boil continues to recur on the gums.

“It typically takes one or two visits to complete a root canal procedure, depending on the severity of the infection,” says Dr. Davis. “First, we’ll take an X-ray to determine what the root canal looks like and to see if the infection has spread to any surrounding tissues. Then, we’ll numb the area to ensure that you are comfortable and relaxed during the procedure.”

During the procedure, our dentist will take measures to keep the tooth isolated and dry. The entire root canal is done through a small access hole in the chewing surface of your tooth. Afterwards, your dentist will seal this hole prior to make a final restoration.

“Once your root canal procedure is finished, we’ll need to restore the tooth,” says Dr. Matthews. “Depending on the severity, we’ll use a crown or other restoration to ensure you have a tooth that looks and functions properly.”

Once the root canal is finished, you may have a bit of tenderness or sensitivity due. This will be especially true if you had an infection or experienced any pain prior to the procedure. Typically all it takes to help the pain is an over-the-counter pain medication, but your dentist may prescribe pain medication just in case. You’ll be able to return to normal activities right away, but should refrain from chewing or putting much pressure on the area until the sensitivity has subsided.

After your root canal and restoration, follow all oral care instructions from your dentist to ensure your tooth remains healthy and strong.

With the expert care of the dentists at Excel Dental, you’ll be in good hands, and in no time, you’re toothache will be gone, your tooth will be repaired, and you’ll be able to enjoy life with a healthy, properly functioning tooth.