A root canal is a treatment used to save a tooth that is badly decayed or infected. The procedure involves removing the damaged or infected tissue from inside the tooth and then filling and sealing the tooth.
Root canals are usually recommended when the tooth is too damaged to be saved with a filling and if the tooth is at risk of becoming infected. The procedure is usually successful, and the tooth can be saved.
However, there are some cases where the root canal fails, and the tooth has to be extracted. If you are experiencing any of the following signs and symptoms, you might need a root canal.
What is a root canal?
A root canal is a dental procedure used to remove decayed or infected tissue from inside the tooth. It involves drilling into the tooth to access the inner chamber, where the root canals are located. The infected or decayed tissue is eliminated, and the root canals are disinfected. After that, the tooth is filled and sealed so it can remain in the mouth, restoring the tooth to health.
Root canals are recommended when the tooth is too damaged to be filled or if the tooth is at risk of becoming infected. Sometimes, a root canal can save the tooth when it is otherwise beyond repair and reduce the risk of further infection and other dental problems. The procedure usually takes less than two visits and is relatively painless when done by an experienced dentist. However, it is important to remember that the earlier a root canal is done, the better, as the infection could worsen if it is not addressed.
Signs you need a root canal
Root canals are not always necessary. The best way to determine if you need a root canal is to visit the dentist as soon as you experience any of these symptoms:
- Severe toothache with pain that is throbbing or radiating
- Tooth sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
- Swollen, tender, or discolored gums
- A small growth near the infected tooth
- An abscess near the infected tooth
- Constant headache or facial swelling
- Difficulty opening your mouth widely or TMJ pain
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to visit your dentist to determine if you need a root canal. The sooner you get treatment, the better it can be for your long-term health.
The procedure for a root canal
If your dentist identifies the need for a root canal, the procedure typically involves these steps:
Examination and Planning: The dentist will take X-rays of the affected tooth to measure the extent of the infection. The X-rays also enable the dentist to plan the procedure.
Anesthesia: The dentist administers local anesthesia to numb the affected area and make you comfortable when doing the procedure.
Root Canal Treatment: The dentist or endodontist (a tooth specialist) will carefully drill into the affected tooth to remove the infected material and seal the remaining cavity with a rubber compound called gutta-percha.
Restoration: After completing the root canal, the dentist will place a crown, onlay or inlay on top of the root canal treated tooth to strengthen and protect it. Depending on where the tooth is located and the condition of the remaining tooth, it might be best to have a complete dental implant performed.
By following this procedure, your dentist can save the affected tooth from infection and preserve your natural tooth.
Aftercare for a root canal
After having a root canal, you must take extra care to ensure the tooth doesn’t become infected again. Here are some aftercare tips to follow:
- Avoid hard or sticky food: Eating hard or sticky food can put too much pressure on the tooth or pull the filling out.
- Refrain from grinding your teeth: Grinding or clenching your teeth can put too much pressure on the replacement filling, leading to further damage.
- Visit your dentist regularly: Regular check-ups can help the dentist monitor the treated tooth and prevent further damage.
- Brushing & flossing: Brush your teeth twice a day and floss once a day to avoid the growth of bacteria and plaque.
- Avoid tobacco use: Tobacco use can lead to further infections and damage to the treated areas.
The alternative to a root canal
Sometimes it is possible to avoid a root canal procedure, such as if your tooth is healthy but not decayed or there is no infection present. In these cases, you may still feel discomfort, but it may not be severe enough to warrant a root canal.
There are a few alternatives to the root canal that may be an option for you, such as:
Dental Crowns: This is a type of dental restoration that covers the existing tooth structure and strengthens it. A tooth crown can be used to restore or replace a weakened or damaged tooth.
Dental Fillings: This is a very common treatment for areas of decay or broken teeth. A dental filling will restore the structure, shape, and strength of the tooth.
Dental Extractions: In the most extreme cases, the tooth may not be salvageable and may need to be extracted. This is usually used as a last resort.
Root Canals in Rapid City
Whether you’re experiencing intense pain, discoloration of your teeth, tenderness in your gums, or any of the other symptoms mentioned, it is important to consult a dentist immediately. Your dentist will be able to diagnose and discuss your various treatment options.
In many cases, the best option is a root canal. A root canal procedure can help to relieve pain and preserve the affected tooth, helping to maintain your overall oral health. For more information or to schedule an appointment, contact us at 605-343-9352.