If you have a vague sense of dread when you hear the term “root canal,” you’re not alone. Let’s face it, getting a root canal is not quite as enjoyable as a normal hygiene appointment. But the process is not as scary as it sounds. More often than not, root canals reduce, rather than cause, pain.
So what exactly is a root canal and why might your dentist recommend one? We’ll answer that and other questions we receive about this common dental treatment.
Root canals are a common dental procedure to restore teeth to a healthy state. When a tooth is infected or irritated, root canals can save the day—and your teeth!
Teeth are more than what you see. Under the outer enamel, there are two more layers, called the dentin and pulp. Root canals target just that innermost part.
Inside your teeth are special cells and vessels that help your teeth develop, but once they’re fully formed, teeth can survive without them. Sometimes, this pulp area actually hurts more than it helps your teeth. That’s when your dentist will remove it with a root canal.
A tiny hole at the top of your tooth is all your dentist will need to clean out the inside of your tooth. After the root canal, the dentist will close up the hole with a crown or filling.
Unlike other options, root canals allow you to keep your natural tooth—always a win! 👏
There are a variety of different reasons your dentist might recommend a root canal treatment. You might need a root canal if:
Without the input of your dentist, it’s difficult to tell whether your symptoms point to an infection requiring a root canal or something else. Be sure to speak up if you notice any discomfort, pain, or unusual symptoms in your teeth and gums.
How to Prevent a Root Canal:
Not every patient will need a root canal. Sometimes, a root canal is your best option for a natural, healthy smile. There are some preventative things you can do, though, to lessen your chances of needing one.
Before your root canal appointment, your dentist might prescribe an antibiotic or anti-inflammatory medicine. This just reduces swelling and addresses any infection. You’ll also want to avoid smoking before and after the procedure as this can interfere with healing.
Depending on your tooth, your appointment should only take an hour or less. The dentist will use a local numbing medicine so you don’t feel a thing.
Next, the dentist will drill a tiny hole at the crown of the tooth and use a very small tool to clear out each canal of the tooth. After the canals are cleaned and shaped, the dentist will fill the space with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha, and close up the hole with a temporary filling or crown.
Some sensitivity in the first few days is normal, but patients usually feel better than they did before the appointment! If you do have any discomfort, you can use over-the-counter pain medications.
Be sure to let your dentist know as soon as possible if you’re in pain after your appointment, as this isn’t typical.
Root canals get a bad rap, but they shouldn’t! They’re a common and effective way to keep your mouth healthy. Of course, preventing a root canal altogether with great hygiene habits is an even better option.
Concerned about your dental symptoms? Have additional questions about root canals? Let us know. Our friendly dentists would be happy to walk you through all your options and help you make a great choice.
Whether you’re new to the Williamsburg area, or new to the Norge Dental family… we welcome you to a new dental experience. We are so thankful you are here.call (757) 564-0804