Do I Need a Root Canal?Are you asking yourself – Do I Need a Root Canal? Here is an overview of when root canals are needed and how the procedure happens.

A root canal is something we’ve all heard of and most of us probably dread the thought of having to have a root canal procedure. But do we really need to dread it? Probably not.

A root canal is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or infected. It is performed when the nerve of the tooth becomes infected or the pulp becomes damaged. During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp are removed, and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed. Root canal procedures have the reputation of being painful. Actually, most people report that the procedure itself is no more painful than having a filling placed. The discomfort experienced in the period leading up to seeking dental care is truly painful, not the root canal procedure itself.

What Are the Signs That Root Canal Therapy Is Needed?

Signs you may need root canal therapy include:

  • Severe toothache pain upon chewing or application of pressure
  • Prolonged sensitivity (pain) to hot or cold temperatures (after the heat or cold has been removed)
  • Discoloration (darkening) of the tooth
  • Swelling and tenderness in nearby gums
  • A persistent or recurring pimple on the gums

The Root Canal Procedure:

The root canal procedure requires one or more office visits and can be performed by a dentist or endodontist. The choice of which type of dentist to use depends to some degree on the difficulty of the root canal procedure needed in your particular tooth and the general dentist’s comfort level in working on your tooth.

The first step in the procedure is to take an X-ray to see the shape of the root canals and determine if there are any signs of infection in the surrounding bone. Your dentist or endodontist will then use local anesthesia to numb the area near the tooth. Actually, anesthesia may not be necessary, since the nerve is dead, but most dentists still anesthetize the area to make the patient more relaxed and at ease.

An access hole will then be drilled into the tooth. The pulp, along with bacteria, the decayed nerve tissue, and related debris, is removed from the tooth. The cleaning-out process is accomplished using root canal files. A series of these files of increasing diameter are each subsequently placed into the access hole and worked down the full length of the tooth to scrape and scrub the sides of the root canals. Water or sodium hypochlorite is used periodically to flush away the debris.

What Should One Expect After A Root Canal?

The root canal procedure should relieve the pain you feel. Until your root canal procedure is completely finished — that is, the permanent filling is in place and a crown, if needed, is in place — it’s wise to minimize chewing on the tooth under repair. This step will help avoid recontaminating the tooth’s interior and also may prevent a fragile tooth from breaking before the tooth can be fully restored.

For the first few days following the completion of treatment, the tooth may feel sensitive due to natural tissue inflammation, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. This sensitivity or discomfort usually can be controlled with over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen. Most patients can return to their normal activities the next day. The final step of the root canal procedure is application of a restoration such as a crown or a filling.

As far as oral health care is concerned, brush and floss as you regularly would, and see your dentist at normally scheduled intervals. Root canals are highly successful; the procedure has more than a 95% success rate. Many teeth fixed with root canal therapy can last a lifetime.

For more information on root canal therapy contact Dr. Graham Farless DDS at 336-282-2868 or visit our website at www.gsodentist.com.