Why do I need root canal therapy?
Root canals allow severely damaged or infected teeth to be repaired and remain in the mouth. The alternative to doing a root canal is to extract the tooth. Teeth that are abscessed or infected, broken teeth, teeth with deep fillings, teeth with large cavities or necrotic (dead) teeth may all require root canals.
How is a root canal done?
This may take place in 1-2 visits. The dentist will administer a local anesthetic (Novocain) and place a protective shield over the tooth called a rubber dam. The dentist will then remove any decay as well as the inner nerve of the tooth. The tooth is disinfected and the inside of the tooth is shaped with special instruments called files. The space inside the tooth is then filled with a special dental material called gutta percha (or another suitable material). A temporary filling is then used to seal the tooth.
Are Root Canals painful?
Root canals are performed under local anesthesia and under normal circumstances should be painless. If you are told you have an infection and require a root canal do not wait to have the procedure completed. Teeth that are severely infected may be difficult to anesthetize and may make having a root canal uncomfortable or even painful.
Care for Teeth with Root Canals
Most teeth that have root canals require dental crowns to prevent them from breaking as well as to prevent any bacteria from leaking into the tooth. Should new decay or bacteria leak into the tooth, the tooth may be reinfected and the root canal may need to be redone. In more severe cases a surgery called an apicoectomy may need to be performed to remove the infection.
Signs and Symptoms You May Need a Root Canal
- Sensitivity to hot and cold that last more than a couple seconds
- Swelling or abscess
- Pain when chewing
- Pain that keeps you awake at night or wakes you from sleep
- A tooth that is dark or discolored compared with the surrounding teeth
- Teeth that have a history or trauma
- Many patients have no signs or symptoms, especially on teeth that are necrotic (dead)