A complete guide to root canal treatment in Anchorage
In the past, extraction used to be the only option to treat an injured or infected tooth. Today, advancements in the field of dentistry have made it possible to treat the infection without losing the tooth. Root canal treatment is a dental procedure that can save even severely damaged tooth.
What is a root canal?
Here is a little tooth anatomy lesson to help you understand what root canal or endodontic treatment is.
Under the white enamel of your tooth lies a harder layer called dentin. The dentin contains pulp – the soft tissue carrying nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue. At the root of each tooth, a narrow canal connects the root-tip to the pulp chamber. This is the root canal. The root canal is also filled with pulp.
Tooth decay, injury, inflammation or disease can damage the pulp and nerves. Root canal treatment is the process of removing the injured pulp and placing a filler material within the canal to protect against infection. It helps retain the tooth structure. After the root canal treatment, the dentist will place a crown on the treated tooth to restore functionality.
Why do you need it?
A damaged nerve, when left untreated, can cause severe pain and swelling. An abscess that forms at the tip of the root can cause considerable pain. Even if there is no pain, your jaw bone that holds the tooth in place can get affected. Without timely treatment, the infection can spread you may need to extract the tooth.
Dental problems & When It is Required
A root canal may be needed if you have:
- Tooth decay that penetrates deep within the enamel and dentin, and reaches the pulp.
- Chipped or broken teeth that expose a nerve, mostly resulting from trauma.
- A tooth abscess caused by decay.
- A dying tooth due to trauma or ageing.
What are the signs that this is for you?
- Mild to severe pain.
- Sensitivity to hot and cold foods.
- Tenderness, swelling and drainage in the lymph nodes, gingival tissues and surrounding bone.
- Discoloration of the affected tooth.
- Spontaneous pain or throbbing while chewing and biting
While most individuals requiring a root canal treatment experience one or more of the following symptoms, some do not show any signs at all. In such cases, the dentist may notice the damaged tooth during a regular dental checkup and suggest root canal treatment to save the tooth.
What does a root canal procedure involve?
A root canal treatment is generally performed over three sittings and involves the following steps:
- Your dentist or endodontist will perform an x-ray examination of the affected tooth and administer a local anesthetic. A protective sheet called the ‘dam’ is placed over the numb tooth to isolate it from the saliva that may be formed during the procedure.
- The endodontist makes an opening at the crown of the tooth to reach the pulp chamber. The damaged pulp is suctioned out. The canal is then cleaned and shaped to accommodate a filling. Medication is used to thoroughly clean the canal and prevent infection.
- After cleaning and shaping, your surgeon fills the canal space with a temporary filling material. This filling seals the root canal and protects your tooth until a restoration is placed. You may also be given medication to help keep the infection under control.
- During the final stage of treatment, the filling is removed and a restoration is placed over the teeth. This restoration protects your natural tooth and helps it function normally.
Does it hurt?
Root canal treatments are performed under local anesthesia. Your dentist will completely anesthetize the tooth and the surrounding area. As a result, you will feel minimal or no pain during the procedure.
After the anesthetic wears off, you may feel some pain or soreness because the area around the root of the tooth will remain slightly inﬂamed while it is healing.
However, the pain will gradually reduce. If the pain worsens, you may need to contact your dentist for further treatment.
What is the recovery time?
The condition of your affected tooth plays an important role in determining the healing period. For example, teeth with abscesses or severe infection may take more time to heal.
Recovery usually happens within 3 or 4 days, provided there are no complications during or after the procedure. Root canal treatments in fact eliminate the need for tooth extraction and additional dental procedures.
What are the benefits of a root canal treatment?
The most important benefit of a root canal treatment is that you will not have to lose your natural tooth. Tooth extraction may lead to other dental problems such as abnormal bite, drifting of teeth and TMJ pain, which may require expensive treatments. Root canal treatment can prevent that. The procedure also provides relief from swelling, pain and infection.
Are you located in Anchorage area and want to learn more about root canals? Book an appointment today.