Root canal is a term that intimidates many dental patients. The process is not as frightening as people suspect, and it can be a critical step in maintaining dental health.
Why Do I Need Root Canal?
Though we often think of our teeth as bones, teeth have a soft area known as the “pulp.” Pulp is soft tissue within the root of a tooth that becomes infected or inflamed when teeth are decayed, cracked or chipped.
An inflamed pulp is painful and can lead to abscesses, which are more dangerous medical issues. Aside from pain, symptoms of a problematic pulp include sensitivity to touch and temperature, discoloration of the tooth and/or lymph node swelling or tenderness.
What Happens During a Root Canal Procedure?
Root canal saves your tooth as your dentist removes the inflamed or infected pulp. The root canal process includes the following steps:
- The dentist takes X-rays of your mouth to ensure that the pulp of your tooth is inflamed or infected. The X-rays also reveal if the tooth can be saved with a root canal.
- On the day of the root canal, your dentist numbs the tooth and covers the rest of your teeth.
- Your dentist creates an opening in the outer portion of your tooth that reaches down to the infected or inflamed pulp.
- The pulp is removed and the rest of the root area is cleaned, shaped and cleared of debris.
- The tooth is filled with rubbery material called “gutta-percha” to prevent further infection or materials from lodging in the root.
- A temporary filling seals the opening your dentist made to access the root. Some patients may only need a temporary filling. More damaged teeth require either a permanent filling or a crown.
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Root Canals and Crowns
Root canal saves the internal structure of a tooth, but the outside portion may still need correction. As these teeth are often cracked or chipped, a crown is necessary to prevent you from needing additional root canal procedures.
Teeth like incisors, front teeth and canines may not need the crown, but this is something your dentist would discuss with you. Crowns are typically used for molars, which are much more likely to continue to fracture.
It is possible for root canal to increase the likelihood that a tooth will crack. If your pulp is inflamed or infected, however, your only options may be root canal or to pull the tooth.
A pulled tooth could also require the insertion of a dental implant. Your dentist will advise you which treatment is best for your mouth and is the most cost-effective.
Remember that a root canal is not considered more painful than a filling. Don’t let fear of root canal prevent you from eliminating the pain of a problematic tooth.
The dentists and staff at New Image Dental are ready and willing to discuss the best treatment options for you. Schedule an appoint at our Inglewood office today!
Our office is a local 5 star Los Angeles dentist. We encourage our patients to come in regularly for check-ups – at least every six months.