Among dental treatments, root canals have a bit of a bad reputation and are often shrouded in myths and misconceptions. Many people associate root canals with pain and try to avoid them altogether.
However, the truth is root canals are often the best treatment option for certain dental issues. In fact, endodontists see root canals as tooth-saving procedures.
The team at Russell Family Dentistry in Tomball, Texas, can help you decide. A root canal can eliminate the pain of a toothache and potentially save your tooth from an extraction. But do you need one?
Read on to explore the signs that a root canal is the best treatment option for you.
What’s a root canal?
A root canal is an in-office procedure to treat a tooth that’s severely infected or decayed. The goals of a root canal are:
- Eliminate bacteria inside your tooth
- Prevent reinfection
- Relieve toothache pain
- Save your natural tooth
During a root canal, our team removes damaged or infected pulp from your tooth's root canal, cleans the area, and fills it with a special material called gutta-percha. This process helps prevent further damage or infection and saves the tooth from extraction.
When is a root canal the best treatment option?
A root canal is often the best treatment option when your tooth’s pulp material (nerves and blood vessels) is infected, damaged, or decayed.
Here are a few scenarios where a root canal might be recommended:
Extensive tooth decay
Normally, if you have a cavity, we can remove the decayed material and fill the hole with amalgam or composite resin. However, deep cavities can affect the health of the tooth pulp.
If you have severe tooth decay that’s reached the pulp, a root canal may be necessary to remove the decay and prevent further damage.
If you’ve cracked or damaged a tooth and exposed the pulp, a root canal may be the best option to prevent infection and save the tooth. Untreated, a deep crack can lead to infection, tooth death, and extraction.
Repeated dental procedures
If you’ve had repeated dental procedures on a tooth, such as fillings or crowns, and the tooth has become infected, a root canal can treat the infection and prevent further damage.
Gum disease can lead to infection in the tooth's root canal by creating pockets between your teeth and gums where bacteria can grow and thrive. As bacteria spread, they can infect your tooth's root and inflame or damage the pulp.
Untreated, the infection can spread and eventually require a root canal to save the tooth.
What happens during a root canal?
If our team recommends a root canal, you may feel apprehensive about the procedure. However, root canals are a routine dental procedure typically performed with local anesthesia to minimize pain or discomfort. A root canal shouldn’t feel any different than getting a filling.
During the procedure, we create a small hole in the top of the tooth to access the pulp. We then use special tools to remove the damaged or infected pulp and clean the root canal. We then fill it with gutta-percha to prevent further infection or damage.
In most cases, a dental crown is placed on the tooth to protect it and restore its function.
After your root canal, you may experience mild discomfort, but this can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain medication. Avoid chewing on the affected side until it’s fully healed, which can take several days.
Questions about root canals? Don’t hesitate to reach out! Call today or use this website to book an appointment.