If you’ve heard the common expression, “as painful as a root canal,” you can relax! With advances in pain management in dentistry, this expression is simply a myth. If anything, a root canal treatment can require some endurance due to the length of the treatment, but it is typically no more painful than having a common dental filling.
Why Our Dentists Might Suggest You Need a Root Canal
A root canal treatment is needed when the pulp, or the soft inner tissue of the tooth, has become infected or exposed. This happens when the hard outer shell of the tooth, or enamel, has failed. The most common reasons for the pulp of the tooth to become compromised are: a cracked tooth; a deep cavity; or an injury to a tooth.
Once the pulp of the tooth is infected or exposed, an abscess, or infection, can occur at the root tip where it meets the jawbone. An abscess destroys bone surrounding the tooth and causes pain.
What are the Signs of an Infected or Compromised Tooth?
Amazingly, sometimes there are no signs that the tooth is unhealthy. At some point however, you will likely notice one or more of the following signs:
- Pressure to a tooth causes pain
- Tooth sensitivity to hot or cold that lingers after the source is removed
- Darkening of the tooth
- Tenderness in the gums
- Tooth pain that interrupts sleep
- Spontaneous, throbbing tooth pain
What to Expect During a Root Canal Treatment
Once it has been established that you require a root canal, you can generally expect your treatment to take place over a single visit to our Calgary NE dental clinic. This helps minimize post treatment discomfort and prevents risk of re-infection or tooth fracture. Occasionally, the existing infection in a tooth is too large for us to complete the treatment in a single visit. In this event, the tooth would be closed with an appropriate temporary filling material, antibiotics would be prescribed, and a second visit scheduled, usually within 7 days, to complete the root canal.
The Basic Stages of a Root Canal Treatment at Memorial Square Dental Clinic
An x-ray will show the presence of infection at the root tip. After the root canal treatment, new x-rays will be taken to show the outcome of the treatment.
To ensure that the infection is gone, our dentists will use special instruments and solutions to clean and shape each canal in the tooth.
Once the canals in the tooth are clean, shaped and dry, the root canal is filled and sealed with a special material which reduces the possibility of bacteria re-entering the tooth; a permanent filling is then placed in the tooth.
As a final step, placing a crown, or “cap” over the root canal treated tooth is strongly recommended, as root canal treated teeth become brittle over time and are increasingly prone to fracture.
Once the root canal treated tooth has a dental crown on it, the tooth can last a lifetime assuming proper care of the tooth is taken. Proper care and hygiene cannot be stressed enough. Since tooth decay can still occur along the gum-line of crowned teeth, good oral hygiene and regular dental exams are still necessary to maintain and assess the long term integrity of the tooth.
Alternatives to a Root Canal
The only alternatives to a root canal treatment involve first having the tooth extracted. Saving your natural teeth, where possible, is always recommended by our Calgary dental team, as the natural teeth serve many functions in the mouth that are not always obvious and that cannot always be replicated by artificially replaced teeth. For example, the natural tooth helps support other teeth in the mouth and helps stimulate bone regeneration in the jaw. Also, in terms of cost, removing a tooth and replacing its function in the mouth through other dental treatment options can often be more costly than saving the tooth itself.
When a tooth cannot be saved by root canal treatment, in the case where it is beyond repair for example, or if you should choose not to proceed with a root canal on a particular tooth, the alternative is having the tooth extracted and replaced with a bridge, implant, or denture to restore chewing function and prevent neighboring teeth from shifting.
Root Canal Prevention
The best way to prevent a situation where a root canal treatment is needed in order to save your tooth is through good oral hygiene, having a healthy diet, and proper safety measures during sports.
Often a tooth is vulnerable to deep infections because of repeated need for dental treatment to the tooth, such as deep fillings. Teaching children good oral hygiene practices such as brushing twice a day, flossing at least once a day as well as proper brushing and flossing technique can create a lifetime of good oral hygiene. For adults, no matter what condition your teeth are in, it is never too late to apply the same principles in your life. Our team at Memorial Square Dental Clinic in Calgary NE are here to help you and advise you on the path to good oral health.
Research has shown that the majority of trauma to teeth occurs during participation in sports. Sports related dental injuries can be greatly reduced or avoided simply by using a sports mouth guard, especially a good fitting mouth guard created by our dentists to fit you perfectly. We encourage you to ask us about our customized sports mouthguards and why a customized mouth guard is essential to your safety.
Please contact us at Memorial Square Dental Clinic in Calgary NE,
or book an appointment online today to discuss your specific dental needs.