Few patients can say they enjoy a visit to the endodontist, but if you’re in dental discomfort, getting a root canal procedure can provide you with a high degree of relief. This therapy is a dental treatment that removes the soft tissue and nerves from inside a tooth root. Here’s everything you need to know about the basics of root canal therapy.

Signs You Might Need a Root Canal

When a crack appears in one of your teeth, it can be small and harmless, or it can cause the tooth to split or break completely. Biting into hard foods such as ice or hard candies, chewing gum or ice, trauma to the area, or night-time tooth grinding (bruxism) are all causes of tooth fractures.

Patients of any age can crack or fracture teeth, although this problem happens most often in children and seniors. A past root canal procedure or a large dental filling can weaken a tooth and make it more prone to fracture.

If a tooth suddenly becomes hypersensitive to hot or cold foods and drinks, the cause could be an exposed root or nerve due to decay, a cracked or chipped tooth, or a loose or missing filling that results in the soft, inner tooth pulp or dentin coming in contact with hot or cold substances.

The Root Canal Treatment Process

A root canal procedure treats these problems by removing the soft tissue or dentin and the nerves associated with the damaged tooth. Our endodontist makes an opening in the crown of the tooth, removes the pulp, and cleans and disinfects the canal. We then shape, fill, and seal the canals with a natural, rubbery material called gutta percha.

The tooth opening is covered with a temporary or permanent filling, or by placing a crown to protect the remaining tooth structure from stress and bacteria. Patients who have an infection in the damaged tooth may be prescribed antibiotics to complete their treatment.

Pain Associated with Root Canal Therapy

As with any dental procedure, root canal treatment can incur minor discomfort. However, scientists have made considerable advancements in technology over the past decade. This has resulted in diagnosis, imaging, equipment, and techniques that enable endodontists to perform root canal treatment with the highest possible precision. This, combined with modern oral anesthesia methods, ensures that root canal treatment is usually as painless as filling a cavity. A survey by the American Association of Endodontists shows people who had root canal treatment are six times more likely to report experiencing no pain during the procedure than in the past.

Pros and Cons of Root Canal Treatment

Getting root canal therapy has both benefits and disadvantages. The main benefit is that, unlike tooth extraction, you get to save the original tooth instead of losing it and needing a replacement. After treatment, you’ll no longer have to tolerate the pain of an infected tooth.

The disadvantages of this procedure are that the endodontist must drill through the outer layer of the tooth to get access to the pulp. During this process, any additional decayed material discovered might also need to be removed. Removal of tooth structure can put your tooth at a higher risk of fracture.  In these cases, a crown may be recommended by your dentist for final restoration.

How many visits does a root canal take?

In most instances, you will only need one appointment for the entire root canal procedure. If there are factors such as severe infection, or complicated root anatomy an additional visit may be needed. Retreatment of old root canals may begin with a consultation visit and a Cone beam Xray.

Results of Root Canal Therapy

Root canal treatment is typically highly successful. The therapy has a more than 95% success rate. Several factors determine how long a tooth lasts after a root canal procedure. Still, with quality oral hygiene and regular dental examinations, a tooth treated this way can last a lifetime.

Contact Professional Endodontics today for more information on root canal treatment, or to schedule an appointment with our qualified, compassionate team.