Root canals can be a “life-saving” procedure for a tooth that has become severely decayed, infected, or damaged. Root canals, when appropriate, avoid tooth loss and the many dental health challenges that arise afterward, including replacement.
A root canal procedure is necessary when the inner-most part of the tooth, the pulp, becomes infected. This can cause so much pain for a patient and is hard to ignore or continue on with normal daily activities. The only way to relieve the pain is to remove the infected pulp or extract the tooth. The sheer mention of a root canal can cause anxiety in many patients.
The advances in technique and materials have transformed this procedure, causing no more discomfort than a dental filling in most cases. If you have been suffering from intense or throbbing pain, the root canal will relieve your symptoms almost immediately.
It is a routine treatment that will remove the decayed tissue from the root canal of the tooth leaving most of the tooth intact. An infected tooth should be treated as soon as possible to avoid the need for a tooth extraction.
Root Canal What to Expect
Dr. Dickert and Dr. Lynn offer sedation dentistry for patients who suffer from dental anxiety or those preferring to be completely relaxed during the procedure. It is necessary to let us treat the infected tooth as soon as possible to avoid an extraction.
We offer nitrous oxide, sometimes called “laughing gas,” to help the patient relax so that we are able to treat the tooth. Laughing gas will not put the patient to sleep but will put them in a deep state of relaxation. It is administered through a small mask that is put over the nose.
The Root Canal Procedure
The root canal procedure is typically completed in one visit to our Charleston dentist office. The process will begin with ensuring that you are completely comfortable and relaxed. We will administer a local anesthetic to completely numb the area around the tooth.
The first step is to create a tiny hole on the back of the affected tooth to gain access to the pulp chamber. Using specialized tools, the infected tissue will be removed by your dentist and the tooth interior pulp chamber will be cleaned to avoid future infection.
The interior of the tooth will be filled with a biocompatible material called gutta-percha that will serve to maintain the structural integrity of the tooth. The tooth will then be sealed.
In many cases, the placement of a dental crown on the affected tooth is recommended. This will strengthen the tooth and improve the longevity of your result. You will have to return to our office for the final placement of your dental crown. The crown will be custom fit and color-matched to blend in naturally with the rest of your smile.
Root canal treatment is known to be painful, but their reputation makes them out to be much worse than they are. Oftentimes the infections that occur before a root canal treatment are much more painful than the procedure itself. Root canal treatment receives the pain from the infection, so ultimately it ends your mouth pains that were pre-existing from the infection.
There are a variety of reasons that patients may need to have root canal treatment. Deep infections that are impacting nerves are the most common reason for needing a root canal. Broken or cracked teeth and very deep sensitive cavities may also lead to the need for root canal treatment.
During a root canal procedure, dentists will begin by numbing the tooth and the area surrounding that the tooth is in. Then the dentist will make a small hole in the top of the tooth so that the infected and diseased tissue can be removed through the hole. Once all plaque and infected tissue are removed the doctor will seal the hole.
Root canals usually take between 1 to 2 hours. In some cases, root canals may take 2 appointments, but it can usually be completed in one if planned. The time it takes depends on the placement of the tooth and how serious the infection is.
Yes, you can eat after a root canal. However, you should wait until the numbness in your mouth wears off. This will prevent biting your cheek or tongue. It’s also advisable to start with soft foods and avoid chewing on the side of your mouth where the dentist performed the procedure. Moreover, you should avoid hot foods and drinks for a few hours until the numbness subsides. If you don’t wait for the numbness to decrease, you may not be able to feel if you’re burning your mouth.
Yes, most people can drive themselves home after a root canal. The procedure usually involves local anesthesia to numb the area, which doesn’t affect your driving ability. However, if your dentist gives you sedation or you feel dizzy or lightheaded, having someone else drive you home is safer. Talk with your dentist or endodontist before the procedure about whether it will be safe for you to drive home afterward.