What is a Root Canal?: Frequently Asked Questions

What is a root canal?

A root canal is one of the methods to save an infected tooth and relieve tooth pain. A root canal involves removing the infected pulp and nerve inside the tooth and filling the canals with a rubber-like material (Gutta-percha) to seal the entire inner canal of the tooth. After a root canal is performed the tooth is then covered with a crown to further protect the tooth.


Who needs root canals?

Patients who experience extreme tooth pain due to an infection caused by a cavity or traumatic event are the most frequent candidates for root canals. Root canals are also recommened for those with extremely sensitive teeth. Additionally, those who have a cracked or severly chipped tooth or very deep cavity may be recommended a root canal. Any procedure that appears to approach too closely to the nerve is a possible root canal procedure. As any procedure that can damage the nerve can cause significant pain to the patient.


Why are root canals necessary?

Root canals are necessary for those with severe tooth pain or persistent extreme sensitivity. Root canals kill the nerve within the tooth and removes the bacterial infection within the canal resulting in almost immediate pain relief after the procedure and a greater chance to preserve the tooth.


What should I expect when getting a root canal?

The procedure for a root canal can either be done in one or two stage approach depending on the severity of the case. In extreme cases (where the patient is in a lot of pain/sensitivity), the root canal is completed in two stages. The first appointment involves shaving down the tooth and exposing the root canals within the tooth. Immediate treatment of the nerve is initiated and the canal is thoroughly cleaned. The canal is then covered with a temporary material until the next appointment. This is done to provide extra time to monitor the status of the tooth. If there is still lingering pain after the procedure, we are able to address the pain without having to redo the entire preparation procedures. The second appointment involves finsihing the root canal by filling the canal with the rubber-like material and sealing the top with filling material. If a crown is needed, the second appointment is when the impression for the crown will be taken. And about two weeks later, the crown will be prepared for cementation over the tooth. Overall, the whole process is about 2-3 appointments, but it can vary case by case.


Do root canals hurt?

Root canals do not hurt! You will be given adequate local anesthesia to ensure you do not feel any pain during the procedure. And after the procedure there is little to no pain as the nerve and infection has been removed. At most, you will feel pressure during the procedure.


What are the possible side effects of a root canal?

Like with all dental and medical treatments, there is always a possibility of experiencing side effects after treatment. Some side effects that people experience after getting a root canal are inflammation, moderate soreness, discoloration of the tooth, and in worse cases leakage of the infection. Most side effects fade after a couple of days. But if your symptoms worsen, come back into the office to get it checked out. Best case scenario, it just needs more time to heal. Worse case scenario, there is a possibility that the tooth is no longer saveable and will need to be extracted.


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