What is Root Canal Therapy?
Root canal therapy is needed when the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection. In order to save the tooth, the pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth), nerves, bacteria, and any decay are removed and the resulting space is filled with special, medicated dental materials, which restore the tooth to its full function.
Performing root canal therapy on a tooth is the treatment of choice to save a tooth that otherwise would die and have to be removed. Many patients believe that removing a tooth that has problems is the solution, but what they don’t realize is that extracting a tooth will ultimately be more costly and cause significant problems for adjacent teeth.
Signs You May Need Root Canal Treatment
There are many common signs of a potential root canal infection. We recommend calling our New York office right away if you’re experiencing any of the following issues:
- An abscess (or pimple) on the gums
- Sensitivity to hot and cold
- Severe toothache pain
- Swelling and/or tenderness around the tooth
- Discolored tooth
- Pain when chewing
What to Expect With Root Canal Therapy
Root canal therapy can be performed by a dentist or root canal specialist commonly known as an endodontist. The procedure requires one or more appointments and is completed in a few steps:
- While the tooth is numb, a rubber dam (a sheet of rubber) will be placed around the tooth to keep it dry and free of saliva.
- An access opening is made on top of the tooth and a series of root canal files are placed into the opening one at a time, removing the pulp, nerve tissue, and bacteria.
- If tooth decay is present, it will also be removed with special dental instruments.
- Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, it will be sealed with either a permanent filling or, if additional appointments are needed, a temporary filling will be placed.
- At the next appointment, usually, a week later, the roots and the inside cavity of the tooth will be filled and sealed with special dental materials.
- A filling will be placed to cover the opening on top of the tooth.
- In addition, all teeth that have undergone root canal treatment should have a crown (cap) placed over the top. This’ll protect the tooth and prevent it from breaking, restoring it to its full function.
After treatment, your tooth may still be sensitive, but this will subside as the inflammation diminishes and the tooth has healed. You’ll be given care instructions after each appointment. Good oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your root canal treatment.
Frequently Asked Questions
We’ll provide you with a local anesthetic during your root canal procedure to help relieve pain and ease any worries you may have. Our experienced staff will be with you every step of the way to ensure you’re comfortable throughout your visit with us.
It’s likely you may experience some sensitivity following the procedure, but this should go away within a few days. We recommend taking over-the-counter medications to soothe any pain or discomfort you may feel after your root canal treatment.
In most cases, it takes just a few days to recover from the sensitivity and discomfort associated with root canal therapy. If any pain persists, it’s important to contact our New York office as soon as possible to schedule an appointment. We’ll examine the surgical site and determine the best solution to help relieve your pain.
It’s best to stay away from hard, crunchy, or chewy foods after your procedure, and avoid hot beverages for the first 24 hours. Consume plenty of cold beverages and try adopting a softer diet — some foods we recommend include smoothies, mashed potatoes, yogurt, and pasta. Once the sutures are removed, you’ll be able to eat and drink without restrictions.
If you’re in need of root canal therapy, it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible to prevent further infection or damage. If left untreated, the infection in your tooth can spread to other parts of your body, like your jaw, blood, and brain — resulting in serious health problems.