Toothaches can mean several different things, but they are most commonly symptoms of a tooth infection. Tooth infections are treated with root canal therapy, and they really aren’t as bad as their reputations claim. These days, root canal therapy is more similar to getting a cavity filled, and receiving treatment will help you get out of pain instead of dealing with the discomfort of an infected tooth.
During your appointment, your dentist will perform an exam and review your x-rays in order to properly diagnose your issue. If it is a tooth infection, the next step is to determine the extent of the infection, and decide whether or not root canal therapy will be effective for treating the problem.
To start the procedure, your dentist will numb the site, including the nerves of the treatment area, using a numbing needle. You may also opt to receive sedation to ensure you feel comfortable throughout the process.
Once you are comfortably numb, your dentist will begin removing any decayed material starting with the enamel. From there, they will move toward the pulp. Once the infected pulp is removed from the inside of the tooth and the canals have been thoroughly cleaned, the area is flushed with disinfectant to eliminate bacteria.
After the inside of the tooth has been cleaned and sanitized, the root canals will be filled with a rubber-like material called “gutta-percha.” This inert substance replaces the extracted pulp and supports the interior of the tooth to maintain structure.
Once the interior of the tooth has been filled, it will be restored with either a filling or a dental crown, depending on how much enamel was lost during the procedure.
You will need root canal therapy if your tooth becomes infected. This happens one of two ways:
Regardless of how the infection occurs, the pulp will begin to decay and die once it becomes infected. When this happens, you’ll experience symptoms like a toothache, gum inflammation near the tooth, and tooth sensitivity.
No. It’s a common myth that root canal therapy hurts when, in fact, it is the toothache caused by the infection that is painful. In modern dentistry, there’s no need for pain. Root canal therapy is similar to receiving a dental filling.
Your mouth will be completely numb during the procedure, and you can even be sedated at our office, if you wish. Getting a root canal is the best way to rid yourself of the pain and discomfort of an infected tooth, which can be very severe.
In rare cases, root canal treatment can fail. If not all of the decayed material and bacteria are removed, the tooth infection may come back. If this happens, you’ll come back to our office for endodontic retreatment. Your dentist will re-open your tooth and repeat the root canal process, and ensure that the infection is completely removed.
Not always. Crowns are usually the best way to protect your tooth after root canal therapy, and are recommended for posterior teeth (molars and premolars). However, fillings are sometimes used to fill front teeth. Your dentist will let you know if you need a crown or a filling after your root canal appointment.
Root canal therapy is usually covered by the vast majority of dental insurance policies to some degree. However, we do recommend that you consult with your insurance provider so that you understand your benefits and which treatments are covered.