Root Canals: Saving Your Smile & Relieving Pain
Tooth pain can be debilitating, but did you know that root canal therapy can save your tooth and provide relief? In this comprehensive guide, Dr. Bethany Burton and Dr. Linda Trotter of Southern Smiles explain root canal therapy. Keep reading to empower yourself with knowledge and be prepared for your next dental visit, or schedule your appointment at Southern Smiles by dialing (904) 389-3451.
What is Root Canal Therapy?
Root canal therapy is an endodontic procedure that can help save damaged teeth by removing infected pulp, cleaning the canals, and sealing them to prevent future infections. Contrary to popular belief, root canal treatments are relatively pain-free and highly effective.
The root canal treatment process removes infected pulp from within the tooth, subsequently cleaning and sealing the canals to hinder further infection. This therapy aids in preserving the natural tooth, which in turn, maintains dental health and eliminates the need for extraction and replacement.
Reasons You May Need A Root Canal
Deep Decay and Infection
Tooth decay that has progressed significantly can penetrate the tooth structure and reach the dentin or pulp, which can cause infection and other dental issues. In cases of deep decay repeated dental treatments may be required to fully address the issue.
Repeated Dental Procedures
Repeated dental procedures may carry certain risks, such as an increased risk of recurrent infection and potential damage to the tooth, which may require a temporary dental filling.
Minimizing these risks requires strict adherence to the pre-and post-procedure instructions provided by your dentist or endodontist. Following these guidelines helps boost the success of root canal treatment.
Chipped or Cracked Tooth
A damaged tooth can expose the pulp, resulting in infection and necessitating root canal therapy, which is often preferred over root canal alternatives such as extraction.
Benefits of Root Canal Therapy
There are several benefits of root canal therapy, such as:
- Preservation of Natural Teeth: Root canal therapy excels in preserving your natural teeth, preventing the need for extraction.
- Reduction of Discomfort: Root canal treatments alleviate discomfort associated with infected or abscessed teeth, providing pain relief.
- Restoration of Dental Health: By removing infected pulp and sealing the tooth, root canal procedures restore dental health and prevent further infection.
- Avoiding Extraction and Substitution: Root canal therapy helps avoid invasive and costly procedures of tooth extraction and replacement.
- Cost-Effective: In the long term, investing in root canal therapy proves cost-effective when compared to alternatives, such as tooth extraction and replacement.
The Root Canal Procedure: Step by Step
During the initial consultation, one of our Jacksonville dentists will assess the tooth and decide if root canal therapy is required. If necessary, they may place a temporary filling before the final restoration to protect the tooth from further damage. Your dentist may also perform:
- A comprehensive evaluation
- Pulpal examination
- Discussion of associated costs
- Diagnostic evaluation with radiographs and potentially a Cone Beam Computed Tomography (CBCT) scan
Local Anesthesia and Numbing
Before the root canal procedure begins, your Jacksonville dentist will administer local anesthesia to numb the area and inhibit pain during the process. Local anesthesia helps you remain comfortable throughout the procedure.
For patients who are extremely nervous or especially prone to pain, we can provide sedation dentistry. This allows for a more efficient and effective treatment process, resulting in a successful root canal and a healthier, pain-free tooth.
Pulp Removal and Canal Cleaning
Once the area is numb, your Jacksonville dentist will remove the infected pulp from inside the tooth. To do this, they'll use specialized tools to clean the canals, ensuring all the pulp is removed and the tooth is free of infection. This process, known as a pulpectomy, involves completely removing the pulp from the crown and roots of the tooth. Your dentist will then clean, shape, and decontaminate the area using small files and irrigation solutions.
Filling and Sealing with Gutta-Percha
After the canals have been cleaned, your Jacksonville dentist will fill them with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. Gutta-percha is a plastic material derived from the sap of the gutta-percha tree and is often used as a lasting filling material in root canals. The canals, now cleaned, are filled with gutta-percha and sealed with dental cement to ensure protection against potential infection. Proper filling and sealing are crucial to the success of root canal therapy, as they help to maintain the integrity of the treated tooth and prevent future complications.
Crown Placement or Permanent Filling
Once the canals are filled and sealed, your dentist will place a dental crown or permanent filling to strengthen and protect the treated tooth. A crown or permanent filling is crucial in reinforcing and safeguarding the treated tooth, often after the placement of a temporary filling during the initial stages of the procedure. The proper restoration of the tooth with a crown or permanent filling safeguards the success of root canal therapy.
Recovery Process After Root Canal Therapy
Managing Discomfort and Pain
- Mild discomfort and pain after root canal therapy can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers.
- Pain typically subsides within a few days post-procedure.
- Prescribed antibiotics and anti-inflammatory medications like NSAIDs can reduce inflammation and discomfort.
- Additional measures include rinsing with salt water, avoiding hard and crunchy foods, applying cold compresses, and following prescribed pain medication to aid in a smooth recovery.
Eating and Drinking Guidelines
- Wait until numbness wears off before consuming food to avoid accidental bites or burns.
- Avoid hard or crunchy foods for several days following the procedure to prevent further discomfort.
Oral Hygiene and Follow-up Appointments
- Maintain proper oral hygiene by brushing, flossing, and using an antibacterial mouthwash regularly.
- Avoid chewing on the treated tooth until the permanent crown is in place to preserve the therapy's benefits.
- Schedule follow-up appointments with your dentist to monitor the treated tooth's progress and address potential issues early on.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does dental insurance typically cover root canal treatment?
Generally, most dental insurance policies offer some coverage for endodontic treatment. Contact your insurance provider beforehand to ask them which costs they can cover. If your insurance doesn’t cover the entire procedure, your dentist may have in-office financing options.
How long does root canal therapy take?
Root canal therapy typically takes between 30 and 90 minutes, depending on the severity of the infection and the number of roots in the tooth. It may require one or two appointments, and larger teeth with multiple roots may take up to an hour and a half.
Is it painful to have a root canal?
Thanks to the local anesthetic, you won't feel any pain during the root canal procedure. The pain associated with a root canal is usually from the infected tooth itself before it is treated. Removing the infection removes the pain, so in reality, painful root canals are a myth.
What should I do if I experience severe pain after root canal therapy?
If you experience severe pain following root canal therapy, contact your dentist right away as it may indicate an infected tooth. Your dentist can perform root canal retreatment to remove any remaining infection that may have been missed the first time or re-entered the canal post-treatment.
Learn More About Root Canal Therapy, Call Southern Smiles!
Root canal therapy is a highly effective dental procedure that can save damaged teeth, alleviate pain, and prevent the need for extraction and replacement. Say goodbye to tooth pain and hello to long-term oral health. Schedule a consultation at Southern Smiles by dialing (904) 389-3451 or contact us online and we’ll get back to you shortly.
Southern Smiles proudly serves new and returning patients from Jacksonville and surrounding areas such as Fernandina Beach, Macclenny, and Green Cove Springs, FL. Discover how root canal therapy can benefit you. Your path to a pain-free, healthier smile starts here.