What to Expect from Root Canal Therapy

Mar 20, 2014 @ 11:05 AM — by Lauren Shanard

Williston Root Canal TherapyNo matter how hard or durable a tooth may seem on the outside, every tooth actually comprises multiple layers of tissue that are notably softer than enamel. In the center of a tooth and within its roots is a substance called dental pulp, which is composed of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues. Because the pulp is primarily responsible for forming tissue within the tooth and keeping it healthy, damage to the pulp can put the rest of the tooth at risk. In the event that decay spreads into the roots of a tooth, root canal treatment is necessary in order to prevent eventual tooth loss.

We want our patients in the Williston area to know what to expect before undergoing any restorative dentistry procedure. As such, we encourage you to learn the basics of root canal therapy: what the procedure entails, what to expect afterward, and how it can help restore the health of your smile. 

Do You Need Root Canal Therapy?

Root canal therapy is only needed when the roots themselves have been infected by disease. Although this may be difficult to discern without X-rays, infected roots often result in any of the following symptoms:

  • Severe toothache
  • Swelling of nearby gums
  • Dark discoloration within the tooth
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
  • A sore or pimple in nearby gum tissue

In some cases, decaying roots also result in an abscess within adjacent gum or bone tissue. When an abscess is present, patients may also experience a fever, bad breath, bitter taste, and swelling in the neck or jaw. However, the only true way to diagnose the extent of decay is through a visit to your cosmetic dentist.

If your roots are revealed to be infected, root canal therapy will likely be recommended. Although the procedure requires more tissue removal and is generally more complex than a filling, most patients should be able to undergo treatment with very little risk. 

How Is Root Canal Therapy Performed?

The procedure begins in a similar fashion to traditional cavity fillings, but requires additional steps for the removal of infected dental pulp:

  • First, patients will be given a local anesthetic to prevent pain during the procedure.
  • Decayed tissue will be removed from the crown of the tooth, as the dentist continues to create an opening toward to the roots.
  • Using a specialized tool, the infected pulp will be removed and the roots cleaned. 
  • Antibiotics will be used within the roots to prevent the spread of infection, and the root canal will be sealed with a relatively soft dental material.
  • A harder filling material will be used in the crown of the tooth, replacing the upper portion of lost dentin and enamel tissue.

The Need for a Dental Crown

In most cases, a tooth that has undergone root canal therapy also requires a dental crown afterward. Since a large amount of tissue has been lost and the tooth will be permanently weakened from a lack of dental pulp, a crown is often necessary to protect it. After taking impressions of your restored tooth, a crown will be customized to replicate it in shape, texture, and color. Once placed over the tooth, the crown will permanently help keep it safe from physical damage or future decay.

Recovery from Root Canal

Although patients should rest for the remainder of the day after root canal treatment, most people can return to school or work the following day without issue. The tooth may feel sore for a few days, but this discomfort should be easily manageable through over-the-counter painkilling medication such as ibuprofen or aspirin. If a crown has not yet been placed, try to avoid chewing on that side of the mouth until all permanent restorations are complete. 

Schedule a Visit

Come in for a consultation to learn whether you require a root canal. With X-ray images and similar diagnostic tools, we will help you find the best and most appropriate form of restorative treatment. Contact us today to schedule an appointment. 

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