A root canal is really simply short for root canal therapy. Contrary to all myths you will hear and read, a root canal is not a procedure to subject you to severe pain. In fact, you may be experiencing pain prior to the procedure and once the tooth is repaired and saved you will be pain free. We’ll first take a look at the anatomy of the tooth, what problems may arise to necessitate a root canal, the procedure itself and the final benefits and result.
The tooth is a living part of your body. The part of the tooth we can see above the gum line is called the crown and is covered with a hard exterior called enamel. The next layer is called dentin. The center of each and every tooth has a chamber filled with pulp. The pulp is full of blood vessels, connective tissue and nerves that all feed the tooth. This soft tissue delivers nutrients to the tooth, feeding it and keeping it alive. The roots or legs of each tooth carry the nerves from the tip of the root into the pulp chamber. The roots can actually make up about two-thirds of the tooth. Your front incisors and cuspeds usually have just one root. Premolars have two roots and some molars will have three roots. The nerves in the root canals serve a sensory function telling you when the tooth experiences the sensation of cold or hot.
Symptoms you Need a Root Canal
If you find yourself with a severe toothache that is the first suggestion that something is wrong. When you chew your food and experience pain it is another warning sign. When hot or cold foods suddenly ramp up with sensitivity, or if the tooth is taking on a different color are two more signs. Your gums can swell or the tooth can become sensitive to the touch. All of these suggest something is not normal. What can be going on with the tooth? A cavity on the crown is the first culprit. Cavities deliver bacteria. If the infection gets to the dentin and then into the pulp it will become painful. Cracking a tooth will also expose the tooth to infection. A broken or chipped tooth can also expedite delivering infection to the pulp. Once the infection gets into the pulp the pain accelerates. The nerve in the root canal will deliver that pain. If you find yourself with any of these symptoms please call the office of Smile Eden Prairie immediately and get an evaluation appointment made. If you allow the infection to continue you will not be able to save the tooth and will be looking at having it extracted.
Root Canal Procedure
If the evaluation, often time with the help of x-rays, confirms that a root canal is necessary to save the tooth, the procedure will be scheduled promptly. The procedure itself has become very common. There are probably over 15 million root canals conducted annually in the United States. The length of time for the root canal depends on the number of roots. You can plan on two visits of 30 to 90 minutes each. The process is four easy steps. Step one is the administration of a local numbing agent. Using a needle a local anesthetic is injected around the tooth. You will feel a very tolerable pinch at this time. Usually a dental dam, which is a small sheet of rubber, is placed around the tooth to keep it clean and dry through the upcoming process. The second step is the introduction of a small hole at the top of the crown of the tooth. This hole allows the dentist to use very small tools and files to remove the infected pulp from the chamber and the root canal or canals. The files will help clean and shape the canals. The chamber might be irrigated several times to wash away any damaged pulp. Finally an antimicrobial solution will be introduced into the chamber to ensure the killing of any remaining bacterial and reduce the risk of any further infection. The third step is the filling of the chamber with a rubber-like material called gutta percha. The chamber will be dried prior to this material being put in. A temporary filling will be put over the hole to seal the tooth. The fourth step is the addition of a permanent crown to be placed over the tooth to protect it. After the filling an impression might be introduced so the crown can be ordered from a dental lab. Since the tooth is no longer alive it is more susceptible to cracking, fracturing and chipping. A crown will prolong the life of that saved and repaired tooth.
Root Canal Benefits
First and foremost the number one benefit is keeping your natural teeth. From there, a root canal is quicker than having a tooth extracted. An extraction, once healed, needs to be followed with a dental bridge or an implant to close up that gap. Leaving a gap is detrimental to the neighboring teeth as they will shift into that gap and change your bite pattern. Having a root canal maintains your natural bite and equally as important keeps your natural smile. The crown that will be added will be totally natural looking and no one will be able to see anything different about your smile. As mentioned when we open, the pain of a root canal is a myth and pales in comparison to an infected tooth. Hopefully you will catch the infection before it gets to the extreme pain point. You should also move forward with two oral exam visits a year at Smile Eden Prairie. The professional cleaning, x-rays and exams will monitor your at home oral hygiene so you can be in charge of maintaining the best care possible for your teeth and gums. Take care of your teeth, keep them healthy as long as possible.
Contact Smile Eden Prairie
Having a root canal therapy procedure can significantly impact and improve the lives of those with damaged teeth. Scheduling an appointment for root canal therapy is the first step towards being confident in your smile once again. We are here to help you begin your journey towards the perfect smile! Please contact us to set up an appointment for root canal therapy at (952) 941-9829. At Smile Eden Prairie, we are passionate about your smile and committed to providing you with the quality care you need!