Root canal therapy is an endodontic treatment that restores the health of an infected tooth. It’s necessary when your tooth’s soft inside layer, known as the dental pulp, is infected or inflamed. Causes of pulp infection or damage include untreated tooth decay that has penetrated deeper into the tooth or oral trauma that has disturbed the dental pulp.
A root canal is not always a viable option, especially if the infection has been left untreated for too long. Sometimes, an extraction will be necessary. However, if caught early enough, a root canal has a 95% success rate and can prevent the loss of the tooth. This will also prevent the infection from spreading to the other teeth or through the bloodstream.
If a root canal fails, you can get a root canal retreatment, which is also very successful.
At your consultation, Dr. Sinha will examine & take x-rays of your tooth to look for signs of an infection. This will help us determine if a root canal is still viable.
We will numb your tooth with local anesthesia before drilling a hole into your tooth that will grant us access to your tooth’s pulp.
Next, we will scrape out all of the dental pulp, down to the root.
Every tooth contains 1-4 canals. Each of these canals will be thoroughly cleaned, sanitized, and shaped.
Finally, we will fill the inside of the tooth back up with a gutta-percha filling material. A dental crown may be placed over the tooth.
When the front teeth are being treated with a root canal, this is an anterior root canal. The access hole needs to be drilled into the back of the tooth and there are only 1 or 2 canals in these teeth which makes cleaning easier and faster. However, gaining access to the dental pulp and the canals can be more difficult. A dental crown is usually not necessary because these teeth do not withstand as much force.
When the rear molars are being treated with a root canal, this is a posterior root canal. An access hole is drilled into the bottom chewing surface of the teeth, which grants us much easier access to the dental pulp. The posterior teeth have as many as 4 canals. This makes cleaning and shaping the canals a lengthy process that may take multiple appointments.
If this happens, we will place a temporary filling in your tooth and then resume the cleaning at the next appointment. Dental crowns are usually necessary to protect the vulnerable teeth from further damage because they withstand a lot of chewing forces.
Less anesthetic is needed in anterior root canals.
No, a root canal is not painful, because we always administer local anesthesia before using any dental tools. Your mouth will be completely numb during the procedure and for several hours afterward.
You may take anti-inflammatory pain medication for any tenderness or sensitivity that occurs in the next few days. However, root canals relieve tooth pain that occurs from an infection, so you have nothing to worry about. If anything, you will feel more comfortable after a root canal.
Usually, the only alternative to a root canal is to have the tooth extracted. However, this is not a decision you should take lightly because you will incur costs and time to replace the tooth. Otherwise, you will suffer from irreversible bone loss that causes your teeth to shift, your facial structure to change, and makes it more difficult to speak and eat.
A root canal is not painful but if you have a low pain tolerance or tooth sensitivity, we can offer you dental sedation.