Diagram of tooth

When routine oral hygiene and professional dental cleanings are not done regularly, cavities and tooth decay can develop. This can lead to the soft tissue portion of the tooth, known as the “pulp”, being exposed to bacteria and germs. Once this happens, a patient will experience mild to severe pain as the soft tissue becomes infected or damaged. Exposure to the pulp can also occur due to an injury resulting in a broken tooth. In these cases, a root canal is necessary to alleviate the pain and stop the progression of damage to the compromised tooth.

What is a Root Canal?

A root canal involves the deep cleaning of a tooth to remove the infected tissue or abscess (if present), remove the pulp of the tooth (if severely damaged or dead) and clean the canals of the tooth. A reshaping of the canals may also be necessary during the procedure. A root canal is meant to save the tooth and prevent it from having to eventually be pulled due to decay.

How is a Root Canal Done?

Patient getting root canal

Several steps are involved with a root canal. Prior to the procedure, the patient may be prescribed antibiotics to help reduce some of the infection, especially if an abscess exists. There may be additional steps depending on the severity of each situation, but the general process includes:

  • The area surrounding the affected tooth is numbed with local anesthetic.
  • The dentist will open the tooth using a dental drill to expose the pulp chamber.
  • The dentist will then clean the canals leading to the pulp roots to remove all bacteria and germs present. The canals may also need to be reshaped at this point.
  • The tooth will then be filled with a temporary filler material and topped with a temporary crown.
  • Another visit to the dentist is required to remove the temporary filler and to clean the tooth again. The tooth is then filled with a permanent material.
  • The dentist then covers the tooth with a new permanent crown.

When an abscess is present, the dentist will usually allow a few days for drainage before the procedure is performed. Antibiotics and pain medication is often prescribed following the root canal to speed recovery and ease any soreness or discomfort.

Is a Root Canal Painful?

Many patients have expressed fears associated with a root canal because of misconceptions regarding the treatment. People often believe the common myth that this procedure will be painful. However, a root canal is no more painful than a typical dental filling because local anesthetic (commonly Novocain) is administered prior to the treatment. The area that is being treated is completely numbed during the procedure so patients do not feel pain while the dentist is working. The patient will most likely experience feelings of slight pressure to the jaw, but that should be the extent of any discomfort.

Our Reno dentists are always dedicated to providing the most comfortable and positive environment for those in our care. In the rare case, a patient does happen to experience discomfort during the root canal, our experienced Absolute Dental professionals won’t hesitate to pause the procedure and apply more anesthetic.

What are the Benefits of a Root Canal?

There are several advantages associated with a root canal. Some of those benefits include:

  • Prevention of tooth loss. The biggest benefit of a root canal is saving the infected tooth before it becomes so damaged that it has to be pulled.
  • Eliminates pain. Most patients in need of a root canal experience pain prior to treatment because of the infection. A root canal will stop the pain and prevent further sensitivity in that tooth.
  • Stop the infection from spreading. The procedure removes the infected tissue in the tooth before it can spread to the surrounding teeth, gums or other areas of the mouth.
  • Treatment can last a lifetime. Once the root canal is done, it’s very likely that no further work will ever be needed on that tooth for the rest of a patient’s life.

How Do I Know I Need a Root Canal?

The pulp of a tooth consists of blood vessels and connective tissue, and is the main source of sensitivity in the mouth. When the pulp of an individual’s tooth is infected or damaged, there is usually persistent pain accompanying it. Most patients find this hard to ignore and will eventually see their dentist due to the pain becoming progressively worse. Sometimes, the infection will also cause swelling. If you are experiencing throbbing pain in your tooth and jawline, it’s possible the pulp of your tooth has become infected. You should schedule an appointment to see your dentist at Reno’s Absolute Dental as soon as possible to prevent the infection from spreading.

Additionally, if you’ve experienced an injury or hard impact that has left you with a cracked or broken tooth, you may need a root canal as well. If the pulp is exposed, you are at risk of getting bacteria and germs inside the tooth. The only way to avoid infection or further damage is to have the tooth examined right away to see if a root canal is needed.

Absolute Dental professionals have extensive knowledge and experience when it comes to root canals. If you have questions about the procedure or would like to schedule an appointment, call our Reno offices today! We’re here to help you get the treatment you need as quickly as possible.

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