It can be scary to have a root canal, but it is an important procedure that prevents tooth loss. Your dentist may recommend a root canal if you have a badly decayed or broken tooth, an abscessed tooth or an injury that has damaged the tooth’s pulp (layer under the dentin). To make the root canal process easier, there are three things you should know before having one:
#1 Root canals relieve pain…
…because they remove the infected section of your tooth. Pulpitis is an infection of the tissue in the center of your tooth that causes inflammation. Your dental pulp can become infected when decay-causing bacteria erode through the two outer layers of your teeth, namely the enamel and dentin.
Symptoms will vary depending on the cause and severity of the pulpitis but may include: sensitive teeth (which may be painful to touch or even bite down on), severe throbbing pain in or around a tooth, and a bad taste in your mouth. Oftentimes, the inflammation from the infection irritates the tooth nerve. By removing the infected tissue, root canals allow your tooth to heal and the inflammation to subside. During a root canal, the tooth nerve is also removed.
#2 Root canals prevent tooth loss by…
…removing bacteria that could lead to the loss of the affected tooth and surrounding teeth if left untreated. Pulp infections are one of the only bacterial infections that cannot be effectively treated with antibiotics. This means that once they enter the tooth, the only way to eliminate the infection is to remove the infected tissue. Without treatment, the infection will continue to spread, causing the tooth roots to abscess and the tooth to eventually fall out. There is also the risk of the infection spreading to the surrounding teeth.
Since pulp infections can only be treated by removing the source of infection, this means the only options are to extract the entire tooth or remove the infected tissue. Root canal therapy allows your dentist to remove the infected tissue within your tooth, while still preserving the remainder of the natural tooth structure. Retaining your natural teeth is always the best choice for your oral health and root canals allow you to do so.
#3 Dental crowns are essential…
…after a root canal since they protect the tooth. During a root canal, all the tissue inside your tooth is removed, leaving the root canals and pulp chamber empty. To prevent the tooth from collapsing in on itself, the tooth is then filled with a rubberized material known as gutta-percha. The access hole and/or cavity is filled with a dental filling. While both of these methods help provide support to the tooth, it is still necessary to place a dental crown over the top of the tooth. This is because the tooth’s structure has been compromised by decay and, although it has been restored, it is still weakened and more likely to become damaged or decayed in the future. Placing a dental crown decreases this risk.
If you are thinking about getting a root canal done, it is important to know what to expect before and after. A root canal relieves pain by removing the infected tissue within your tooth while still preserving its natural structure. Retaining teeth in general is always best for oral health so having this procedure performed will help protect that. Finally, placing a dental crown is necessary to protect the tooth from any future damage.
Dr. Sadati possesses extensive experience in all aspects of advanced restorative dentistry, with an emphasis in cosmetic and implant dentistry. He has attained Accredited Fellow status in the American Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry (AACD), the most rigorous, demanding credentialing process in the world. He is the only AACD Accredited Fellow in South Florida.