Root canals are a bit of a “misunderstood” dental procedure. They have a reputation for being difficult and painful, and patients often grimace or look distressed when they are told that a root canal is recommended.
We’ve found that understanding what a root canal is and why it’s done is helpful in relieving the fear and anxiety that our patients feel, but we also want to reassure you that modern root canals are much easier and more comfortable than they used to be. Thanks to major improvements in dental technology and techniques, we can provide safe, efficient, reliable root canals that relieve your pain and restore your tooth so that you can get on with your life.
How Do You Know I Need a Root Canal?
If you are in pain, call our Edmond, OK dental office right away so that we can see you and perform an assessment. We will use x-rays to spot the infection inside your tooth. Once we’ve identified the infection, we’ll know if root canal therapy is the right option for you.
Why Do I Need a Root Canal?
Root canal therapy is usually needed to treat an infection or repair trauma that has seriously damaged the interior of your tooth.
Your tooth is not a chunk of inert bone. It has layers. The smooth, shiny top layer that everyone sees when you smile is your enamel. Just beneath the enamel is a layer of porous bone called the dentin. Within your dentin is a hollow space called the pulp chamber. This holds the living tissue of your tooth, including the nerve.
When the root canal inside your pulp chamber becomes infected, bacteria build up and cause considerable damage and pain. Eventually, they may kill the nerve, which causes the tooth itself to die. This can also occur if your tooth has become severely decayed or damaged by trauma.
Root canal therapy removes this infected and damaged material, sterilizes the inside of your tooth, and then restores the tooth with filling material so that it can’t become re-infected. Does this sound complicated? It’s not. In fact, a root canal is generally no more difficult or uncomfortable than getting a filling. It’s the condition itself that is actually painful, and people have associated that pain with the treatment.
What Happens After the Root Canal?
Once your root canal is completed, we may recommend a crown to protect your tooth. We remove the nerve during root canal treatment, and although your nerve is not necessary for your tooth to remain in place, it can cause the tooth to become brittle and more easily broken. A crown will avoid the unpleasantness of a broken tooth and restore your tooth to full function. If we determine that you will need a crown, we will make arrangements for this.
You may experience some discomfort as the anesthetic wears off. This is normal and happens because your immune system has not yet gotten the word that the infection is gone. Once this happens, usually within a day or so, the inflammatory response will stop and the discomfort and swelling will recede. In the meantime, we can discuss measures to relieve your discomfort, which may include over-the-counter pain treatments and ice packs or prescription medications.