TEETH ARE ALIVE, just like every other part of the body. That means they are susceptible to infection. Whenever an infection becomes severe enough, the tainted part has to go, or else all the surrounding tissue will be compromised as well and the patient’s life will be at risk! That’s where a root canal comes in.
What Is A Root Canal?
Root canals are a way of getting rid of the infection in a tooth without getting rid of the actual tooth. A root canal won’t save your tooth from becoming infected—by the time you need one, it’s too late for that, but it will allow you to keep your tooth.
After a good diagnosis eliminating all other possibilities for the tooth. Then numbing the tooth so that you can’t feel the tooth pain anymore. A dentist or endodontist will go into the tooth to reach the infected pulp at its core. Next, the inside of the tooth is flushed out, the root is filled with sealer and gutta-percha. Then there is a permanent filling put in the tooth called a core build-up. Sometimes the core build-up may have a post into the root to give the tooth additional strength. Then on some front teeth and all back teeth a crown is done and cemented. This procedure ensures that no more bacteria can get inside the tooth and minimizes the chances of the tooth breaking.
To get a better understanding of what’s involved in root canal treatment, check out the video below:
When Do You Need A Root Canal Treatment?
The way teeth become infected is through decay, cavities, or cracks from an injury, which means it’s usually an avoidable problem. If you’re brushing and flossing properly, your teeth are unlikely to reach a level of decay that allows bacteria to reach the living dental pulp inside them. However, from time to time we see teeth that need a root canal that has never had a filling and has no sign of decay. This isn’t seen often but a couple of times a year we see this happen. The point is it can be hard to figure out which tooth is hurting and why. That is why you call the dentists at McOmie Family Dentistry we are here to help.
Infection can lead to an abscess at the tooth’s root or the death of the pulp. If you have tooth decay extensive enough to require a root canal, you’ll probably be experiencing significant pain in and around the infected tooth. With an abscess, there will also be swelling and inflammation. Tooth pain alone isn’t always a sign of an infection, but it’s always worth checking out to make sure.
Other symptoms of tooth infection include:
- Temperature sensitivity
- Sensitivity to pressure (particularly when chewing)
- Swollen lymph nodes under jaw
- Rush of foul-tasting fluid and pain relief if abscess drains
- Toothache at night.
- Constant tooth pain that won’t go away no matter what you take for it.
What to Expect from A Root Canal…
Here at McOmie Family Dentistry both Dr. Mark McOmie routinely do root canals. We do root canals on anterior teeth, bicuspids, and molars. We do on a normal day from 3-5 root canals at our office. Root canals are not painful during the procedure you should not feel any discomfort at all. If you do we stop and get the tooth properly numb so you don’t feel anything. There is no reason to hurt while at the dentist. Root canals can take as little as 15 minutes and up to one hour. On a posterior tooth usually, we do the root canal, core build-up, and a crown in under one hour. That way at the next visit it is just to cement the crown, which usually takes about 15 minutes and you don’t have to get numb.
We use the latest in technology to make your experience the least traumatic as possible. For example, we use an instrument called an apex locator, it can help find the apex of a root which is required when doing a root canal. We know you don’t know what that means and we won’t bore you with the details. Before this instrument, it was common to take 45 minutes to find the apex of the root. Now with this instrument, we find the apex in less than 30 seconds. Taking 45 minutes and turning it into 30 seconds of treatment is just one of many examples of how this procedure has become much easier on the patient than it used to be.
Root canals are almost always done in one visit at McOmie Family Dentistry. We have been doing it this way for nearly 20 years. We find that we have greater success with less pain to our patients when we do the entire procedure in one sitting. We have the skill to do root canals at a high quality, in a short amount of time with no pain.
When we do root canals we always use what is called a rubber dam. As explained in the video above the goal of a root canal is to clean the bacteria out of the hollow space in the middle of the tooth. We don’t want the bacteria and the rinses in your mouth. The files used to clean the tooth out are very very small. A rubber dam is used for safety during a root canal. If we drop a file the rubber dam keeps you from swallowing it. Often times when we have a patient with a toothache that is new to our practice and we pull out the rubber dam they ask what it is. It is nothing to worry about and fits around the tooth with minimal effort and no discomfort.
All root canals are done under magnification and special lights to help us see everything we need to see. These don’t touch the patient or really get near the patient but it can look a little weird. Again as with the other things, it is to help us do the highest quality of dentistry while keeping our patient’s comfort optimal.
Keep Those Teeth Healthy!
Remember that preventing the problem is always better than needing a solution! Healthy teeth don’t need root canals, so keep brushing twice a day and flossing daily, and cut back on sugary drinks so that your teeth will stay healthy! If you do have a tooth problem remember, most problems with teeth can be fixed without a root canal or pulling the tooth. If you do need a root canal we can help turn that mountain into a molehill. It will be easier than you think, promise!