When the soft tissue (mostly nerves and blood vessels) inside a tooth becomes damaged because of a cavity, physical trauma, or deep filling, that tissue often has to be removed in a procedure called a root canal. Typically, the damaged tooth will be inflamed inside—a condition known as pulpitis—causing severe cold sensitivity or a toothache. If your dentist tests the tooth and determines that it will not get better by itself, the damaged tissue has to be taken out.
Root canals are also needed when the soft tissue inside the tooth has died and begun to rot, leading to an infection or abscess. In those cases, the dead tissue must be removed so the body can heal.
The procedure for a root canal is not unlike getting a dental filling, only longer. Your dentist will freeze the area before making a hole through the top of the damaged tooth to reach the soft tissue. The tooth and roots are then cleaned and disinfected, and the empty space is filled with a heated rubber material. A series of X-rays will often be taken along the way.
After the procedure, you may feel a dull ache or sensitivity to pressure for a few days. This is a natural part of your body’s healing process.
Patients will sometimes come in with preconceptions about how painful a root canal treatment will be. In fact, the procedure should be comfortable as long as your dental team can provide adequate anesthesia. Factors such as acute infection and inflammation can reduce their ability to do this, which is why managing the damaged tooth with antibiotics or anti-inflammatories prior to the procedure is crucial.
In many cases, people with “root canal stories” are remembering the pain they felt prior to root canal treatment if they waited too long before getting it done.
Following root canal treatment, you may need a crown on the affected tooth for a few reasons. When a tooth becomes sensitive and requires root canal treatment, it’s often because it has a very large filling. The tooth is then further weakened when we make a hole in it to clean it out. And once a tooth has no blood supply, it dries out over time, which can make it more brittle.
As an alternative to a root canal, a damaged tooth can be removed and replaced with an implant-retained crown or fixed bridgework. Your dentist will help you decide which option is best suited to your specific case.
Contact Affinity Dental Sherwood Park today for more information about root canal treatment.