As dentists, we understand that the prospect of a root canal can be a bit scary. For a lot of patients, it feels like a last resort—but there are a lot of reasons it can be a highly effective procedure. Boger Dental wants you to have all the information you need, specifically on how a root canal can help with dental pain.
What is a Root Canal?
Also known as endodontic therapy, a root canal is a procedure in which a tooth with damaged or infected pulp is treated. The pulp contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. When it is infected or inflamed for any number of reasons, a root canal can be necessary to save the tooth from extraction. The procedure usually takes 1-1.5 hours, but there are multiple factors that can affect the time it takes. Here are a few common reasons our team of professionals might determine the need for a root canal:
- Dental Inflammation: This is the typical culprit for most of our patients. It’s usually caused by untreated tooth decay that reaches the inner pulp or a dental injury that damages the pulp.
- Abscess: An abscess is a pocket of pus originating at the root of the tooth due to infection. It can cause severe pain and swelling.
- Cracked or Fractured Tooth: A cracked or fractured tooth might expose the pulp to bacteria, leading to infection and the need for a root canal.
Before we talk about how this treatment can help out with dental pain, we want you to have a good idea of what the process entails.
- Diagnosis: We’ll start by examining the tooth using x-rays to determine the extent of the damage or infection.
- Anesthesia: Local anesthesia numbs the affected area, to ensure the patient is free from any pain during the procedure.
- Isolation: We place a rubber dam or dental sheet around the tooth to keep it clean and dry during the procedure.
- Access Opening: The dentist makes a small opening in the crown of the tooth to reach the pulp chamber and root canals.
- Cleaning and Shaping: The damaged pulp is removed, and the interior of the tooth is cleaned and shaped. We’ll remove any infected tissue, debris, or bacteria.
- Filling: After cleaning, the root canals are filled with a biocompatible material, usually a rubbery substance called gutta-percha, to seal the space and prevent further infection.
- Restoration: A temporary or permanent filling or crown is placed on the tooth to restore its strength and prevent further damage. A crown tends to be the more durable of the two options.
How It Helps With Pain
Since the source of the pain is being removed, it helps to alleviate it for good.
- Cleaning and Disinfection: When the bad pulp is removed, the interior of the tooth is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. This means bacteria or debris that contributed to the infection or inflammation is no longer there to cause trouble.
- Elimination of Nerve Sensitivity: When the pulp and the nerve are removed, the tooth is no longer sensitive to hot or cold temperatures, which often trigger intense pain in infected or inflamed teeth.
- Relief from Pressure and Swelling: The removal of the infected pulp also alleviates pressure and swelling associated with dental infections. This can significantly reduce pain and discomfort.
- Long-Term Pain Relief: A successful root canal eliminates the source of dental pain, and once the tooth heals, patients typically experience lasting pain relief. The tooth is saved and can continue to function as part of the dental arch.
Other Factors to Consider
While there are a lot of commonalities in root canals, every patient is different. Your experience might be a little different based on a number of perfectly natural variables.
- Tooth Location: Certain areas of the mouth are harder to work on; molars in the back might have multiple roots and canals and, therefore, take longer to treat.
- Tooth Condition: The severity of an infection and the condition of the tooth itself can affect the complexity of the treatment.
- Tooth/Oral Anatomy: Some teeth have irregular or complex canal shapes. Based on this, our dentists will make adjustments to your treatment.
- Multisession vs. Single-Session: Sometimes, the steps of the root canal need to be executed over multiple visits, whereas others are completed in one appointment.
- Patient Cooperation: Just about any procedure, dental or orthodontic, involves the cooperation of the patient after the visit. One of the most crucial aspects is following post-operative care instructions provided by our doctors.
Boger Dental Is Here to Help
You can be assured that our Boger Dental dentists are highly experienced and will ensure a routine procedure like a root canal will go as smoothly as possible! Our Plymouth office has six incredible doctors with a variety of focuses. Whether you need a root canal or are searching for a new dental provider for yourself or your family, you’re welcome to call us at (763) 463-0724.