It’s unfortunate, but most people will need a root canal at some point in their lives. This procedure involves removing the pulp at the center of the tooth and root when the pulp becomes infected or inflamed. This pulp is necessary while your tooth are forming, but becomes unnecessary to the health and growth of your tooth once it has matured. Unfortunately, if the pulp becomes infected or damaged in any way, a root canal is needed to remove the infected pulp and save the tooth and root. Pulp can become infected in any number of ways, and due to the limited blood supply to the tooth, antibiotics are rarely, if ever effective, at healing infected pulp. The most common cause of infection is untreated cavities.
If the bacteria that causes the cavity is allowed to spread throughout your tooth, it will eventually spread to the pulp. If the bacteria is left to fester, the tooth can eventually be lost, as infections that are inside the tooth cannot be treated with antibiotics due to a lack of blood supply. This is why getting root canal therapy is so important when needed! A few hours in the chair can save you years of discomfort and embarrassment from a lost tooth!
Why Might I Need A Root Canal?
If you have had unusually sharp or intense pain with a tooth or teeth, heightened sensitivity, or recently cracked or broke a tooth, you will likely need a root canal. When being evaluated for a root canal procedure, Dr. Zadeh will take dental x-rays of your mouth, as well as feel around the tooth manually, with the use of warm and cold substances to test the tooth’s sensitivity. If he is still unsure about whether you need a root canal, Dr. Zadeh may use an electric pulp tester to shock the pulp to see if it is alive. This does not hurt, but does cause a tingling sensation. This process cannot be used if you have a cardiac pacemaker or an electronic life-support device, so make sure you disclose any and all relevant information to Dr. Zadeh before undergoing any form of treatment or evaluation.
If you are experiencing any of the following, call Dr. Zadeh for a consultation:
- Prolonged and heightened sensitivity to hot and cold.
- Moderate to intense pain when chewing, talking, applying pressure, or at rest.
- Severe toothache.
- Discoloration or darkening of the tooth.
- Swelling of the gums nearby the tooth or persistent pimples on the gums near the tooth.
The Process Of A Root Canal
A mild infection may need only one visit to complete the root canal therapy, but teeth that are awkwardly placed, or in the case where the infection has spread to the tooth itself, may require several visits to make sure the infection is completely gone. After your procedure is complete, a crown or filling will be used to restore your tooth.
When you get a root canal, the doctor will drill into your tooth with a specialized tool to help remove the infected tissue. This drill like utensil will remove and clean out the infected pulp and other tissues that are causing you pain and sensitivity. While it may feel strange or uncomfortable, it will be over fairly quickly.
Fortunately, the material inside the tooth is not necessary after you reach adulthood, so there is little risk of complication from removal of the pulp. After the interior of your tooth is cleared of bacteria, infected tissue, and decay, depending on the size of the drill site, you will either have a crown or filling placed to protect the tooth.
Fillings may be substituted, but crowns are actually most common, as many root canals require a significant portion of the tooth to be drilled and a the filling would not be enough to protect the tooth from further decay and damage.
During the entire process, your mouth will be numbed so you will never feel anything beyond the dentist working. You may be given full sedation if the process is predicted to be lengthier or more extensive than average. As with any treatment that Dr. Zadeh offers, sedation dentistry, as well as other relaxation and anxiety-relieving options for the nervous patient are available. Your health and comfort are our priority.
After a little while, you will come back for a checkup to make sure the infection has cleared out and everything is looking better. Then you will be given a permanent crown, if you had a temporary placed. Afterwards, you will leave the office with a healthy, healing smile.
Does A Root Canal Hurt?
One of the reasons they are dreaded, is that many people have heard painful horror stories. Friends who may have gone through a long, painful, arduous process or what is portrayed in popular media and played for laughs or shock value.
Many of these instances are exaggerated. And as far as a root canal needing to be painful? This is simply not the case anymore. Dentists have worked hard to reduce the amount of pain and discomfort that may occur during a root canal with a great deal of success. While the procedure is never something that will ever be described as fun or pleasant, a root canal does not have to hurt.
Okay, So It Doesn’t Hurt… What Is It Really Like?
Courtesy of localized anesthesia and sedation dentistry, most patients hardly feel a thing other than the dentist working. If you are truly squeamish or have several teeth that need to root canals, you can opt for sedation dentistry. This way you can skip right past the experience and ‘wake up’ to a healed smile. The best analogy we could think of is that it will feel like a filling that takes a bit longer, depending on the size of the tooth in question. Beyond anesthesia and sedation dentistry, we also offer other amenities to help you relax through the process. These include music, a paraffin wax hand bath, and a wide array of movies from our library. You can even bring in your own movies and music if you so please.
What Happens After?
After the process is complete, your tooth will be sore for several days. This is normal and will dissipate within a week. Dr. Zadeh will inform you if you should take over-the-counter pain relievers, or will prescribe you with something stronger if he sees the need for it. Of course, we always recommend the lowest strength pain-reliever that accommodates your comfort. If you think you may need a root canal, or have a cavity that has not yet been treated, please call us at (310) 273-2020 or email our appointment coordinator for a consultation today. Dr. Zadeh and his staff will be happy to discuss fillings and root canals with you.