Not everyone is a candidate for root canal therapy. Your dentist in Greenville, SC, will first assess the condition of your tooth before suggesting root canal treatment. Signs you may need one include:
- Severe toothaches when chewing
- Prolonged tooth sensitivity to cold or hot temperatures, even after the stimulus has been removed
- Tooth discoloration
- Tenderness and swelling in the gums, and
- A persistent bump on the gums
However, there are also cases wherein a patient advised for a root canal shows no signs of infection, and this is why your dentist recommends bi-annual visits.
What is Root Canal Therapy?
Root canal therapy is a treatment specifically designed to repair, restore, and ultimately save your tooth, despite it being badly infected or decayed. This will beat the discretion of your dentist after carefully assessing your tooth. The name of the treatment is called root canal therapy because it aims to repair your root canal.
A root canal is a chamber within your tooth that consists of blood vessels, nerves, and soft tissues. When this becomes infected, your dentist will remove the damaged pulp, clean the chamber, and seal it to restore your tooth’s integrity, strength, and appeal.
Many people are scared to get a root canal because they think it’s painful. However, the procedure is designed to relieve the pain instead of creating it. The infection is what’s causing the pain and not the root canal therapy itself.
What is a Dental Pulp?
The dental pulp is found at your tooth’s center. It houses connective tissues, blood vessels, and nerves and travels all the way down your tooth roots. Luckily, the nerve within the chamber does not play a vital role in your tooth’s function once your tooth has surfaced above the gum line. The sole function of the nerve is sensory. With or without the nerve, your tooth can still function.
Why is Root Canal Therapy Important?
If your dental pulp is severely decayed it could start to break down and when it does, bacteria will proliferate in the chamber. Ultimately, it may cause a tooth abscess or an infection. An abscess is a pocket that forms at the tip of your tooth root and is filled with pus. Aside from developing an abscess, you’re also prone to developing infection. When left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of your body, like the head, neck, and face.
How is Root Canal Therapy Done?
It takes one or more dental visits to complete a root canal. This procedure can be performed by an endodontist or a qualified dentist. First, an X-ray will be taken to visualize the shape of your root canal and to find if an infection has spread to the surrounding bone. Local anesthesia will be administered to numb the site. Usually, anesthesia is no longer needed if the nerve is dead but most patients request anesthesia for their comfort.
Next, a rubber dam is placed in your mouth to keep the site dry. This prevents saliva from making contact with the decayed tooth. A tiny hole is drilled into the decayed tooth to access the pulp. Everything inside will be removed, like the pulp, bacteria, nerve, tissues, etc. Root canal files are used to clean out the chamber. The files used vary in diameter to scrub and scrape all the sides of the root canal. Sodium hypochlorite or water is then used to rinse the chamber and remove leftover debris.
When the chamber is debris-free, it will then be sealed. Normally, your dentist will wait for at least seven days before sealing it. If an infection is present, you may be given a medication inside the infected tooth. If the procedure can’t be done in one day, your dentist will give you a temporary filling placed in the exterior access hole to keep it free from contaminants.
On the second appointment, your tooth will be filled with gutta-percha, which is a rubber compound placed within the canal. Finally, additional protection may be needed to keep the tooth strong, like a dental crown, to stop it from breaking.
What Happens After a Root Canal Therapy?
After a root canal, you will no longer feel pain in your tooth. During the first few days, avoid chewing on the newly repaired tooth so it won’t get contaminated. Wait until it is fully restored. It’s normal for your tooth to be extra sensitive following a tooth infection. Mild discomfort is also expected but you can take over-the-counter painkillers to ease the discomfort, such as naproxen or ibuprofen.
Do You Need to See a Dentist in Greenville, SC?
If you are experiencing signs and symptoms of an infected tooth, see a dentist right away to have your mouth checked because you may be a candidate for root canal therapy. At Pelham Links Family and Cosmetic Dentistry, we use modern and state-of-the-art technology when providing personalized dental care to our patients. We take pride in our team of professionals in their experience, skills, and training to give you the highest standards of care. If you want to know more about our services, give us a call.