A root canal, also known as endodontic therapy, is a common procedure that treats tooth decay and damage. It removes the infected pulp from the tooth, cleans out the canals, and then seals the tooth with a crown for protection. A common misconception is that root canals are painful. However, advances in dentistry have made the procedure much more manageable for patients. In fact, in most cases, it’s no more uncomfortable than receiving a filling.
Do You Need a Root Canal?
A filling may be able to repair a small cavity, but a root canal is necessary when the decay has reached the roots of the tooth. The pulp may be decayed or damaged beyond repair, and it won’t grow back on its own. If your tooth is infected, then you may need root canal therapy. Otherwise, the infection can spread through the root into the jawbone, causing increasing pain and sensitivity.
What Happens During a Root Canal Procedure?
When a patient has a diseased or injured tooth that cannot be repaired with a filling or other treatment, a root canal may be the right treatment option. During the process of a root canal, the damaged area of the tooth is cleaned out and filled to prevent further decay and pain. A temporary crown is often placed until a permanent dental crown can be secured to the tooth.
During a root canal procedure, the patient is given local anesthesia and sedation as needed to ensure comfort during the appointment. The dentist will drill into the inner chamber of the tooth to access the pulp and nerves of the tooth. The root is then scraped clean, and the inside of the tooth is disinfected to prevent future infection. Once the inside has been cleaned, the tooth is filled with a special material and sealed. In most cases, a temporary dental crown is placed over the tooth while the patient waits for the permanent dental crown to be made and placed. This process can take several weeks to complete.
Patients will experience some discomfort after a root canal procedure. However, this is no worse than the pain they were experiencing prior to receiving the procedure. After your procedure, you’ll also receive instructions on how to care for the tooth until your restoration is placed. As long as you practice good oral hygiene habits at home and follow the dentist’s instructions, your tooth should heal quickly and last for many years to come. This procedure has a high success rate and can save a tooth that may otherwise be extracted. Most patients who have received a root canal can expect to see their restoration last for many years and decades to come.
What Are the Benefits of a Root Canal Procedure?
Tooth Pain Treatment
If your tooth is infected, it can cause mild to excruciating pain when chewing or putting pressure on the tooth. Sometimes, the pain will radiate to other nearby areas like your jaw or face. This means you might need an extraction to remove the problem tooth so you can treat the infection. A root canal procedure can then restore the tooth with a filling or crown. Thanks to this new restoration, you’ll be able to chew again without discomfort!
Saving Your Natural Tooth
Besides preventing the need for an extraction and replacing it with an artificial option, root canal therapy can also preserve the structure and strength of your tooth. Although this procedure takes longer than getting a filling or crown, it’s usually the best option to keep a natural tooth intact. Plus, our dentists in Santa Clara are experienced and trained to perform the procedure as quickly and comfortably as possible.
Maintaining Chewing Ability
The purpose of root canal treatment is to remove the infection from the inner tooth and remove damaged tissue in that area. When a tooth is infected, a dentist may recommend removing the pulp and nerve entirely to prevent the spread of infection. In some cases, however, saving the nerves can be an option. If your dentist recommends this, it’s because doing so will allow you to keep your biting abilities intact.
How Long Does it Take to Recover From a Root Canal?
The length of time it takes for a patient to fully recover from a root canal varies from person to person and depends on the extent of the procedure and whether any other dental procedures were performed at the same time. In most cases, your dentist will recommend a soft diet for a few days following the treatment to avoid putting pressure on the tooth while the soft tissue heals. Most patients are able to resume their normal activities within a day or two of the root canal, but recovery can be expedited by practicing good oral hygiene habits before the procedure.
Call us at (408) 988-7788 or schedule an online appointment with Dr. Lee for a consultation at our office in Santa Clara, CA.