If you’re suffering from severe tooth decay, infection or damage, it is possible that the only way to salvage the tooth is to have a root canal procedure. While this procedure is often a last resort, you can rest assured that this treatment is no more painful than a standard filling at the hands of our experienced dentists at Valley Dental Care of Plainfield. By fixing the damaged root in your tooth, you will find that this procedure can provide you with much needed long-term relief.
Signs You May Need a Root Canal
This special procedure is used when the innermost layer of the tooth is infected, inflamed, or damaged—impacting the deep nerves within the pulp. Here are some symptoms of inner tooth decay to look out for:
- Severe toothache, particularly when chewing or applying pressure
- Discoloration or darkening of the enamel
- Headaches emanating from the jaw
- Extreme teeth sensitivity, particularly to heat or cold
- Swelling or tenderness in the gums
- Recurring sores or sensitivity in the gums
If you exhibit these symptoms, you should schedule an appointment with your dentist immediately. However, tooth decay can often happen gradually with minimal symptoms, so biannual dental check-ups are the best way to catch this decay before a root canal procedure is needed.
How Does the Root Canal Procedure Work?
Within the deepest layer of your tooth’s root is a substance called “pulp,” which is a soft tissue that connects the tip of the roots (under the gums) to the outermost layer of the tooth, or crown. Our fully-grown teeth do not need pulp to sustain, so the root canal procedure simply removes the infected pulp and allows you to save your natural tooth.
Here is what you can generally expect when undergoing this procedure:
- First, we will take an x-ray so we can see the extent of the damage, as well as the inside of the tooth, root, and abscess (if there is one).
- To begin the procedure, we will numb the tooth and surrounding tissue by administering a local anesthetic.
- We will then block the tooth with a rubber dam. This keeps away any moisture away from the procedure site.
- Using a drill (just like when treating cavities), we will make a small opening in the outermost layer of the tooth, or crown.
- We will remove the infected pulp, bacteria, and debris that may have built up from infection. We will also put medication directly into the tooth if there has been an infection.
- A temporary filling will be put over the tooth while it heals and, later, a permanent filling will be used to replace the pulp that has been removed.
- Finally, once your tooth has begun the healing process, we will place a permanent dental crown over the tooth to restore its structure and strength.
Most patients feel complete pain relief after their procedure, though some may experience some pain afterwards. We will provide you with post-procedure instructions to ensure that you heal completely. This usually includes good oral hygiene practices, regular check-ups, and avoiding chewing with your treated tooth for a while. By following these instructions carefully, we often expect a full and permanent recovery.
If you would like to learn more about the root canal procedure, or would like to schedule an appointment with Valley Dental Care of Plainfield, give our Plainfield office a call today.