Root Canal

Root Canals

It’s not uncommon to have some level of anxiety about certain dental procedures. This is particularly true when it comes to a root canal. Root canals are likely the most notorious dental procedures. They’re also the most common endodontic treatment.  However, many people don’t know why the root canal is so dreaded, nor its purpose. The truth is, that root canal treatment is a great way to take care of an infection without losing the tooth.

What is a Root Canal?

When a tooth is infected, sometimes the infection can travel to the pulp chamber within the tooth. The infected pulp must be cleared, or the infection can grow into an abscess. If left untreated, it could ultimately result in a serious problem that includes bone loss in the jaw.

When possible, a dentist will do what they can to save your natural teeth. Even with advances in dental implant technology, a healthy, natural tooth, is generally preferred over an implant. One of the best tooth-saving dental procedures is the root canal.

We offer root canals to patients who can benefit from the procedure.

Root Canal Procedure

There are several steps to a root canal procedure. The first and foremost is the comfort of the patient. We begin by numbing the area around the tooth using a local anesthetic. This helps to ensure that the patient doesn’t experience any pain during the process.

The dentist then drills down into the infected tooth. This step creates an opening into the canal system. The dentist will then remove the infection along with any infected tissue before cleaning the canal. Once the infection has been removed and there is no sign of infection in the surrounding soft tissue, the general dentist or endodontist will fill the empty space with a root canal filling or sealant called gutta-percha.

In most cases, a tooth that has undergone root canal therapy will also need to be fitted with a crown. The crown helps improve the tooth’s appearance and increases the chance of success for the procedure.

If a crown is needed, then the tooth structure will be reshaped, and a crown created. Most often, you’ll be fitted with a temporary crown while the permanent crown is being made. You’ll wear the temporary crown anywhere from a few days to a week or two. After which the permanent crown will be placed. This process allows your natural tooth to continue to function with roots intact.

Why You Shouldn’t Fear a Root Canal

There was a time when a root canal may have been a scary procedure. However, both the benefits and advances in dental technology have helped to make it much more common and less feared. Local anesthesia and proper pain medication result in a procedure with little to no pain in the majority of cases.

Some people may experience some soreness after the procedure, but this is typical for most root canal treatments and endodontic treatments. Typically, over-the-counter painkillers are enough to provide pain relief. Occasionally, your dentist may prescribe prescription medication afterward.

Root canals not only allow you to keep your natural tooth and its function, but they also relieve you of the toothache caused by the painful tooth. For many people, it also helps improve tooth sensitivity that you may have felt as a result of the infection.

Superior Dental Care at Smiles by JB

Our goal here at Smiles by JB is to help our patients achieve and maintain optimal oral health for years to come. Proper dental care goes beyond checkups. It involves total mouth care and consistent oral hygiene. Even with proper care, some patients still require restoration treatments such as fillings, crowns, root canals, and other treatments.

We’re here to provide superior service every step of the way. You should never have to suffer with your symptoms. If you have a cavity, sensitive teeth, tooth discoloration, a dental abscess, bad breath, a cracked tooth, periodontal disease, or any other concerns, reach out to Smiles by JB at 919-484-0880 for a consultation.

Frequently asked questions about root canals

Do you need a root canal?

You may need a root canal if tooth decay or a broken tooth has allowed the pulp to become infected and inflamed.

A tooth needs a root canal if your tooth pulp becomes infected or dies.

The success of a root canal hinges not only on the complete removal of all infected pulp but on the quality of the sealing and restoration of the tooth as well.

What is a root canal?

A root canal is an endodontic treatment that helps treat unhealthy tissues of the dental pulp.

What is the main purpose of getting a root canal?

The purpose of a root canal procedure is to remove the pulp that has been damaged by excess decay, fractures, or other trauma in efforts to save the tooth.

The root canal process will disinfect the contaminated root canals, and fill in the root canal system to prevent re-infection.

Are there any alternatives to a root canal?

There are several options available for missing teeth, such as dentures, partial dentures, dental implants and fixed dental bridges, however, these alternatives can be much more expensive than saving your tooth with a root canal treatment.

Can I take antibiotics to fix a tooth requiring root canal treatment?

Dentists frequently prescribe antibiotics before and after endodontic treatment for reduced chance of systemic infection, reduced pain, increased success rates, and a variety of other reasons.

Your dentist may put you on antibiotics that shrink the infection, which would also cause pain to subside. 

The antibiotics will help your body fight off the infection, making the anesthetics used prior to the root canal more effective and also reducing your pain in the days leading up to the treatment.

Although antibiotics can help keep the infection from spreading, the only way to remove the infection completely is by performing root canal treatment and cleaning out all the dead tissue and bacteria inside the pulp chamber and root canals.

How long does a root canal take?

A root canal does typically take a little longer than a routine filling, because, in addition to anesthesia, set-up, and preparation, the entire nerve of the tooth must be carved out, rinsed, disinfected, and sealed.

Can I eat after a root canal?

You can eat 30 to 45 minutes after a root canal, which is enough time to allow your temporary filling to fully harden, but it’s generally recommended that patients wait to eat until after the anesthetic has worn off to prevent you from biting your cheek or tongue.  Be sure to brush and floss regularly to keep the area free of food debris and plaque.  As long as you avoid chewing or biting down with your treated tooth, you should be able to eat soft foods without any issues.

Remember, a root canal preserves the healthy tooth structure, as well as the density of the underlying jawbone, which can help to protect your ability to chew, eat, and speak.

What should you not eat after a root canal?

Foods to Avoid After a Root Canal Procedure:

  • Very hot and very cold foods and beverages, which can irritate sensitive teeth.
  • Sticky foods like gum, caramels, and other candies.
  • Chewy foods like steak and crusty bread.
  • Hard foods like nuts.
  • Crunchy foods like pretzels and tortilla chips.
What is the recovery time after a root canal?

Since a person needing a root canal is often already in extreme pain, the root canal treatment actually provides relief from pain and recovery time is very minimal.

Typically, root canal recovery time lasts less than a week. Mild discomfort may be present for a few days, but this can be managed with medication. If you have severe pain or discomfort that lasts longer than a week, call your endontistic/dental provider.