Sooner or later you may suspect you’re developing a situation in your mouth that could require – gasp! — root canal therapy. Sure, you brush twice a day and floss regularly. But one of your teeth just doesn’t feel right. Or you might feel a sharp pain even when chewing soft food. Trust me, you’ll want to search for an emergency dentist near you who offers same day appointments.
Root Canal Mysteries Explained
Here are some signs that a root canal procedure might be in your future.
- Sharp pain when you bite down or chew
- Pimples on your gums (what??)
- Chipped or cracked tooth (may need an x-ray to verify)
- Sensitivity to hot or cold, even after the stimulus is removed (eating ice cream, for example)
- Swollen or tender gum area surrounding a tooth
- Deep tooth decay
- Darkening of the gums
But for many people, even the term ‘root canal’ is dreaded. The procedure has its own dark mystique, kind of like voodoo. Supposedly root canal therapy is extremely invasive, intense and painful. And it has a nasty reputation as a cruel dude, the ‘worst dental procedure’ you can have while you’re not sedated.
The 411 about Root Canal Therapy
Thankfully, none of that is true. Root canal therapy is intended to prevent worse developments, as explained by the American Association of Endodontists. And Sky Dental of Malden has the best emergency dentists in Boston, so you can be confident of the gentlest, most effective treatment.
Call 781-338-0818 in the Malden area for an appointment to have it scheduled. Ignoring an infected tooth can lead to more serious conditions, even fatal. Advances in equipment and technique have simplified the procedure of a root canal. Now it’s almost as routine as a filling. In fact, that’s what it is – an extensive and specialized filling.
Navigating the Root Canal
You may or may not be interested to learn that ‘root canal’ refers to the passage inside the roots of your tooth. That passage contains the pulp, with nerves, connective tissue and blood vessels, which connect with the jawbone where your tooth’s roots are seated. When the pulp gets inflamed (aka, infected) by bacteria from a cavity, there’s nowhere for it to go in order to get rid of the infection.
A wound on the surface of your skin will drain. That’s why we wash it well, slosh on some peroxide, goop on some antibiotic cream, and stick on a bandage. But infection in the pulp of your tooth is trapped and will only fester if there’s no intervention. Thus, the invention of root canal therapy!
Before 1838-ish, when improved root canal therapy instruments were invented, the only other treatment for an abscessed tooth was to pull it. Sometimes we still do that when the tooth is too damaged to save. But going around yanking out teeth is kind of like using a hammer to swat a fly. You might hit it, or you might not. Anyway, you’re doing something to get rid of it, right? Sooner or later you’re going to run out of teeth. Let’s consider performing a root canal procedure instead, and save that tooth so you can use it normally.
What happens during root canal therapy?
We realize that some people might be a bit squeamish about the details of root canal therapy. However, we want you to know exactly what will happen. No surprises. Normally the procedure is done in one visit, lasting an hour or two. After the root canal therapy is completed, other steps are needed to restore function in your tooth. For instance, Dr Mihyawi may install a crown to further protect the chewing surfaces.
There are 3 main phases to root canal therapy.
Your tooth will be x-rayed so your dentist can see the length and shape of the canals. (Like tree roots, sometimes the roots of your teeth can be oddly curved.) Then your tooth will be numbed with anesthetic (you’re welcome). Your dentist will place a ‘dental dam’ around the affected tooth.
The dental dam is a rubber sheet that keeps the bacteria already in your mouth from getting into the open canals of your tooth. Also, the dam protects the rest of your mouth from the gunk removed from your infected tooth. The advantages of this will become apparent later on!
The procedure itself.
- Your dentist drills a small opening into the middle of the tooth’s chewing surface, to access the pulp chamber. The root canals develop from the pulp chamber and are extensions of it.
- Through the new opening, your dentist inserts long, thin instruments (endodontic files) directly through the pulp chamber and into the root canals. He’ll then remove the infected pulp and smooth the canal walls inside the tooth.
- When the pulp has been removed, your dentist flushes out the filing debris and any remaining pulp. This cleaning solution kills the bacteria inside and also disinfects the root canals. And it’s another reason you’ll appreciate the dental dam.
- The prepared and disinfected root canals and pulp chamber are filled and resealed with gutta percha. Soft, rubbery gutta percha has extremely low toxicity and is by far preferred to seal root canals.
Follow up therapy.
Because your dentist had to drill a hole in the middle of the top of your tooth to access the pulp chamber, that hole must be sealed somehow. Usually, we fill the hole and then fit your tooth with a crown to further protect it from decay. The crown helps to restore the original shape and usage of your tooth.
And that’s all there is to it.
If you had pain or infection before your root canal therapy, your tooth may be sensitive for a few days. Your emergency dentist may write a prescription, or you can use over-the-counter medications for relief. Follow your post-procedure recommendations, and if pain persists or worsens, call or text us immediately: 781-870-0849
Root canal therapy does not kill your tooth, but the nerves inside will be removed. Since adult teeth are fully formed, the nerves don’t function in further development. So, they have little purpose and you will be able to use your tooth as normal.
In rare instances, your tooth may discolor a bit or develop spots called intrinsic stains. Fortunately, your tooth can be whitened later with special bleaching.
If you have concerns about the cost of root canal therapy, at Sky Dental we accept almost all insurances and group plans. Even if you don’t have insurance right now, you can sign up for a flexible payment plan that will stay within budget. We understand how life has gotten turned inside out, and we’re here to make things easier to maintain good dental health and love your smile again. Searching for a dentist nearby? Look no further, Sky Dental of Malden is ready to help you with your dental needs.
2 thoughts on “What is Root Canal Therapy?”
Do you use anesthesia for extraction of broken teeth for someone who is extremely afraid of dental problems.?
Hi Cynthia! Thanks for your question. Dr. Mihyawi and our whole team are dedicated to making sure your visit is as pain free as possible. Gentle dentistry is our mission! Because each person’s situation is different, the best thing to do is to make an appointment for an examination. At that time, Dr. Mihyawi will assess the problem and advise you on the best course of treatment. If you need emergency assistance, call or text 781-870-0849 and we will get you in as soon as possible.
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