Note: This article is to help you understand some information about root canals and recognize some of the symptoms that are associated. If you are experiencing pain or are concerned about a certain tooth, the best course of action is to schedule an appointment now with your dentist to see if a root canal or other procedure is best for you.
If you are experiencing constant tooth pain, particularly if it wakes you in the night, there might be a chance you need a root canal. This procedure is often associated with a tooth that may have deep fillings, history of cavities, extreme sensitivity to hot/cold or other damage.
Historically root canals are one of the more dreaded dental procedures. However, modern procedures and anesthesia have improved drastically, making root canals faster and less painful than before. If you are experiencing pain now, root canals can offer quick, long-term relief.
What is a root canal?
Your teeth have a set of nerves that travel through the root (located underneath your gums) down into your tooth. These nerves can become infected and bacteria can enter them. Often this is caused by a deep cavity or a past deep filling that is close to the root.
Once bacteria has entered the root it can cause an abscess, which is an infection created by the bacteria. The pressure from the infection is what causes the pain that is associated with the abscess.
A root canal is the procedure that both alleviates the pressure from the infection by allowing it to drain, and the process of curing the root of the bacterial infection. The nerve endings in the tooth are removed and the pain from the abscess is gone.
Are root canals painful?
This is a common concern when coming in for a root canal. Local anesthesia (numbing medication) are used before any of the work associated with the root canal is done. This numbs the area around the tooth making the procedure essentially painless.
The pain associated with the root canal is mostly felt before the procedure not during or after. The abscessed tooth is the reason people feel pain associated with root canals, the procedure cures that pain quickly, which is why if you are experiencing an abscessed tooth you should get into your dentist as soon as possible.
How long do root canals take?
Tooth root structures are not all the same. Teeth typically have one to three roots, but can have more. Most roots are mostly straight, but some are curved. This along with the severity of the infection weighs in how long the root canal may take. However, most root canals take between 1 to three hours.
Will I need a crown with my root canal?
Crowns are needed when a tooth’s structure is damaged to the point where it is unstable from cracking. Root canals can require much of the tooth’s structure to be removed to expose and remove the root. In many cases a crown may be necessary to restore the tooth’s structure, but that decision will be made by you and your dentist. The answer is: no root canals don’t require a crown, but in many cases a crown may be the best course of action after a root canal.
What happens after a root canal?
Most patients feel nearly instant relief after a root canal. However, sometimes pain can persist for up to 3 days after. That doesn’t mean that something is wrong, it is just your tooth going through the healing process and that takes longer for some people and for some teeth. After the root canal your dentist may prescribe some type of painkiller because of soreness. Nearly immediately after the procedure you may return to using the tooth fully.
A root canal may be right for you.
Many people are concerned about root canals. While they certainly are significant dental procedures they are the best way to quickly cure tooth pain in many cases. Speak to your dentist to understand if you need a root canal. You can schedule an appointment with the professionals at White Pine Dental Care by contacting us on this page.