Root canal therapy is a very important tool in a dentist’s list of dental services to save and maintain our teeth. For many, it can be a scary procedure we try to avoid, but with a little educational knowledge, it can take some of the fear away and put your mind at ease. A root canal should not be avoided due to fear, understanding what to expect and why may help you get the dental treatment you need when you need it.
Root Canal Therapy Frequently Asked Questions
Root Canal Therapy (also referred to as root canal treatment or endodontic treatment) is a dental procedure in which the diseased, decayed tooth, or damaged nerve of a tooth is removed and the inside areas (the nerve and canals within the roots) are cleaned, filled and sealed permanently to avoid infection. Without treatment, the surrounding tissues of the tooth (including the gums and bone) will become infected and a dental abscess can form.
A tooth’s nerve and blood vessel provide nutrients and hydration to a tooth as well as sense of temperature. It provides the sensation of hot or cold. The absence of a nerve will affect the strength of a tooth and make it become more brittle and susceptible to fracture if not protected by a crown.
How Do I Know If Root Canal Therapy Is Needed?
Common symptoms related to an infected tooth include tooth sensitivity (to hot or cold temperatures or even both), sensitivity to touch, toothache/sharp pain when chewing, swelling in the area of the tooth, or a bad taste in the mouth. These symptoms need to be evaluated by a dentist immediately to prevent further pain or damage.
What If I Ignore My Symptoms? Will They Just Go Away?
If the symptoms are ignored and treatment is not begun, the inflammation can progress to infection. Infection will continue to invade the tissues and tooth causing the tooth to become more painful and may become a health threat. Once the tooth “dies”, there are only two choices: extract the damaged tooth or perform root canal therapy.
How Is My Tooth Restored After Root Canal Therapy?
Depending on the extent of the damage to the tooth, your dentist can recommend a dental composite restoration to close the tooth or in most cases recommend a dental crown to protect the tooth against future damage. Over time, the tooth with the root canal therapy will dehydrate. This will make the tooth brittle and more susceptible to fracture/breaking. Most often, a crown is placed after root canal treatment is completed to protect the tooth and restore full function.
Is Root Canal Therapy Painful?
Typically, root canal therapy should cause no more discomfort than a simple dental filling). The pain most people associate with root canal therapy is due to the infection that develops. Root canal therapy actually relieves the pain by removing the dental infection and pressure.
What Are The Advantages Of Root Canal Therapy?
Saving the natural tooth with root canal treatment has many advantages:
-Maintains Normal Biting Force And Sensation.
-Natural Looking Appearance.
-Protects other teeth from excessive wear or strain.
Root Canal Therapy helps you maintain your natural smile, continue eating the foods you love and limits the need for ongoing dental work. With proper care, most teeth that have had root canal treatment can last as long as other natural teeth and often for a lifetime.
Are There any Risks Or Complications?
Over 90 % of root canal therapy procedures are successful. However, there is a chance of a failed root canal. Sometimes the root canal therapy needs to be redone due to diseased canal offshoots that went unnoticed, the fracture of a filing instrument, or a fracture or perforation in the root. The signs of a root canal therapy failure are marked by a return of pain, pressure, and sensitivity.
Is There An Alternative To Root Canal Therapy?
There are other options. One includes extracting the infected tooth. Then the question becomes how to replace the tooth. A few options are possible and these include a dental bridge and a dental implant. The success rate of root canal therapy is over 90% so it is an excellent option to save your own natural tooth if at all possible.
What Can You Expect After Root Canal Therapy?
Most patients feel some sensitivity for a few days afterward. For many it is easily relieved with an over the counter pain medication (aleve or ibuprofen).
Can Root Canal Therapy Be Avoided?
Some tips include maintaining good dental hygiene, see your dentist and hygienist regularly, eat a well balanced diet, and wear a custom made sports mouthguards to decrease dental trauma. Root canals, unfortunately, are not entirely unavoidable, and may happen even with good hygiene and care.
Root Canal Therapy Conclusion
Many are fearful of the root canal therapy procedure but in reality it is not the horror that many believe it to be. Root canal therapy is an easy way to save your teeth in the event of dental trauma, decay, or dental infection. Knowing what to expect can go a long way to alleviating any fears you may have. It is important to save your natural teeth whenever possible.
Root canal and pain go hand in hand in many people’s minds. Generally our fears and anxiety stem from others telling us their experiences and not from our own. A root canal (also referred to as RCT or root canal therapy) is a dental procedure where the damaged nerve (also called the pulp) of a tooth is removed. Following removal of the nerve, the canals of the tooth are cleaned and sterilized. Following this cleaning process the canals are filled and sealed permanently to avoid future dental infection. If treatment is not undertaken, the dental infection will affect the tooth along with surrounding oral structures (like gums and bone tissues) and a dental abscess can form in the area as the infection looks to escape.
The reason for the removal of the tooth’s nerve is because these nerves (along with associated blood vessels) is responsible with providing hydration and nutrients to our teeth. They also give us the ability to sense hot and cold.
Surveys year after year find that root canal therapy is considered the most feared of all dental procedures. These surveys also found people’s views on root canal therapy is based on what others have told them and not their own individual experiences. This leads to people believing mostly inaccurate stories about root canals. It is the fear of the unknown as I like to call it.
Is Root Canal Painful Or Can It Be Painless?
A root canal is necessary when the nerve of a tooth develops inflammation or becomes infected. This inflammation or dental infection can develop in a number of different ways:
–Tooth decay that pushes into the area of the nerve or pulp chamber.
–Fracture or chip in the tooth that gives bacteria a pathway to spread into the tooth’s nerve canal.
–Trauma. Traumatic injury to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to a dental abscess.
A tooth causing pain of this type is irreversible. To save the tooth a root canal must be performed.
Signs and symptoms that a root canal is probably necessary can include pain, extended sensitivity to temperature (either hot or cold or both), tenderness to touch and chewing, discoloration of the tooth, and swelling, drainage and tenderness in the lymph nodes, bone and surrounding gingival tissues. In some cases, no outward dental symptoms are present at all
A root canal usually requires one or more visits to the dentist and can be performed by either a general dentist or a specialist called an endodontist. An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and injuries of the human dental pulp or the nerve of the tooth. Your dentist will generally make the call on who should perform the root canal. You will be referred to endodontist if any of the following are needed:
-Degree Of Difficulty. Some teeth have anatomy that is slightly abnormal which makes the canals of the tooth harder to access.
-Re treatment of a previous root canal.
You and your dentist will discuss who is best suited to complete this root canal for you and make the best, informed decision for your dental treatment.
Root Canal Procedure
–Anesthetic. Your dentist will use a local anesthetic to numb the surrounding areas to give you pain relief and also allow the procedure to be completed pain free. Some patients do not require any anesthetic but it will make it more comfortable.
–Cleaning Of Tooth Canals. Tiny instruments are used to slowly clean out and debride bacteria, decayed nerve tissues, and bacteria from inside the tooth’s canals. Sterile water, peroxide, or sodium hypochlorite are used periodically to flush away the debris and kill any bacteria present.
–Filling of Canals. Each canal is filled to the end of the tooth with a rubbery compound called gutta percha and permanently sealed. The process essentially is like a cork to prevent bacteria and fluid from re-entering the tooth, and keep it sterile. Many dentists prefer to wait a week or so before sealing the tooth. This will give the inflammation that has developed a chance to decrease back to normal levels. Others prefer to seal the tooth the same day it is cleaned out. If the root canal is not completed on the same day, a temporary filling is placed to keep out contaminants like saliva and food until the next appointment.
Following treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive for a few days to a week. This is especially true if there was pain or dental infection before the procedure. This discomfort can be relieved with over the counter or prescription pain medications or an antibiotic may be necessary if an infection was present. Follow directions given to you very carefully and feel free to ask your dentist questions if an issue comes up.
Your tooth may continue to feel slightly different from your other teeth for some time after your root canal treatment is completed. However, if you have severe pain or pressure or pain that lasts more than a few days, call your dentist immediately.
–Restoration of Tooth. Generally but not always a tooth that needs a root canal often is one that already has a large dental restoration or extensive tooth decay. Even when tooth decay was not a factor, the tooth treated with a root canal is weaker than a “live” tooth. Therefore, a crown, crown and post, or other extensive dental restoration often needs to be placed on the tooth to protect it, prevent it from breaking, and restore it back to full function again. After a completed dental restoration, you will not be able to notice any difference in its function or form or feel. You and your dentist will discuss this need further and make an informed decision together the best course of action for your dental care.
Is A Root Canal Painful Conclusion
A dental root canal is extremely successful with a more than a 95% rate of success. Many teeth with a completed root canal can last a lifetime with no issues.
Most root canals are completed to relieve the pain of toothaches caused by pulpal inflammation or dental infection. With modern advancements in techniques, dental materials, and anesthetics, most patients state that they do not feel any pain once the procedure is underway. Root canal procedures have an undue reputation of being painful. Usually most patients report that the procedure itself is no more painful than having a routine dental restoration placed. The misconception has developed because the majority of the pain stems from the dental infection and pulpal inflammation that has developed. This can be tricky to get good anesthesia but a good dentist will be able to make you comfortable during the procedure.
As noted above, the pain from root canals in modern dentistry is mainly from the dental infection that presents to the dentist and the actual procedure should be pain and worry free. The best defense against developing a toothache and the need for a root canal is to see your dentist regularly, maintain proper oral hygiene, and call your dentist at the earliest signs if you have any pains or discomfort.
Root Canal Therapy (also called root canal treatment or endodontic treatment) is a dental procedure in which the diseased or damaged nerve (pulp) of a tooth is removed and the inside areas (the nerve or pulp chamber and root canals) are cleaned, filled and sealed permanently to avoid dental infection. Without treatment, the surrounding tissues of the tooth (including the gums and bone) will become infected and a dental abscess can form.
A tooth’s nerve and blood vessel provide nutrients and hydration to a tooth as well as the ability to sense temperature. It provides the sensation of hot or cold. The presence or absence of a nerve will affect the routine functioning of a tooth. Over time, the tooth with the root canal dehydrates which makes the tooth brittle and more susceptible to fracture. Most often, a crown is placed following root canal treatment is completed to protect the tooth and restore full function to the patient.
Root canal therapy is considered by many to be the most feared dental procedure. Does that surprise you? Surveys completed by the American Association of Endodontists reveals that most people with a fear of the dentist are based on others’ experience and not on their own.
The inaccurate information they receive about root canal therapy prevents patients from making a properly informed decision regarding their teeth. Many patients will ask that a tooth be extracted rather than experience a root canal procedure simply fearing the unknown.
Root canal treatment is needed when the nerve or pulp tissue becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can occur from a number of ways: Decay that extends into the pulp chamber, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or a fracture or chip in the tooth that allows bacteria to spread into the pulp chamber. Also, a traumatic injury to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to a dental abscess.
Root canal therapy is almost always recommended because a tooth is causing pain from a condition that is irreversible. Pulpitis (inflammation of the pulp), an infected pulp, broken teeth, or a slowly dying nerve are all common reasons for root canal therapy.
Root canal therapy is used to alleviate that dental pain. Most people who have root canal therapy admit they did not experience any pain during the appointment and felt better almost immediately afterward.
Signs that a root canal may be necessary include pain, prolonged sensitivity to temperature (hot or cold), tenderness to touch and chewing, darkening or discoloration of the tooth, and swelling, drainage and tenderness in the lymph nodes, bone and surrounding gingival tissues. Sometimes, no symptoms are shown at all
Root Canal Therapy generally requires one or more visits to the dentist and can be performed by either a dentist or a specialist called an endodontist. An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and injuries of the human dental pulp or the nerve of the tooth. The choice is generally up to the dentist on who will perform the root canal. The reasons the dentist may send you to the endodontist include: degree of difficulty of the tooth involved and need for a microscope, re treatment of a previous root canal, and the patients preference. You and your dentist will discuss who is best suited to complete this treatment for you and make the best decision for your treatment.
The first step is to take an X-ray (if one has not been already taken during the diagnosis) to see the shape of the root canals and determine if there are any indications of dental infection in the surrounding bone tissues. Your dentist or endodontist will then use a local anesthetic to numb the area surrounding the tooth. Anesthesia is not always necessary but generally preferred by patient to make the procedure more comfortable.
Once numb, the pulpal tissue along with bacteria, the decayed nerve tissue and related debris are cleaned out from the inside of the tooth and roots. Tiny instruments called dental files are used to measure the length of the root canal and to shape and clean the inside of each root. Sterile water, peroxide, or sodium hypochlorite are used periodically to flush away the debris and kill bacteria..
Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, each root canal is filled to the end with a rubbery compound called gutta percha and sealed . The process essentially is like a cork to prevent bacteria and fluid from re-entering the tooth, and keep it sterile. Some dentists like to wait a week before sealing the tooth. This will give the inflammation a chance to settle down back to normal. Some prefer to seal the tooth the same day it is cleaned out. If the root canal is not completed on the same day, a temporary filling is placed to keep out contaminants like saliva and food until the next appointment.
The final step may involve a more extensive restoration of the tooth. Generally a tooth that needs a root canal often is one that has a large filling or extensive decay. Even when decay was not a factor, the root canaled tooth is weaker than a “live” tooth. Therefore, a crown, crown and post, or other restoration often needs to be placed on the tooth to protect it, prevent it from breaking, and restore it back to full function again. After restoration, you will not notice any difference in its function or form. You and your dentist will discuss this need further and decide together the best course of action for you.
Root canal therapy is highly successful and has more than a 95% success rate. Many teeth repaired with a root canal can last a lifetime.
Most root canals are performed to relieve the pain of toothaches caused by pulpal inflammation or infection. With modern techniques, materials, and anesthetics, most patients report that they do not feel any pain once the procedure is underway. Root canal procedures have the reputation of being painful. Usually most patients report that the procedure itself is no more painful than having a routine filling placed.
For a few days following treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. This discomfort can be relieved with over the counter or prescription pain medications or an antibiotic may be necessary if an infection was present. Follow directions given to you very carefully and feel free to ask questions if an issue arises.
Your tooth may continue to feel slightly different from your other teeth for some time after your root canal treatment is completed. However, if you have severe pain or pressure or pain that lasts more than a few days, call your dentist.
As noted above, the pain from root canals in modern dentistry is from the infection that presents to the dentist and the actual procedure should be pain and worry free. Best defense against developing a toothache is to see your dentist regularly, maintain proper oral hygiene, and call your dentist at the earliest signs if you have any pains or discomfort.
Tooth sensitivity is generally the result of worn tooth enamel or exposed tooth roots due to gingival recession. Other causes of tooth sensitivity include tooth decay, a cracked or chipped tooth, a worn filling, or periodontal disease. Tooth sensitivity is a very common problem affecting more than 1 in 8 Americans. For some they are aware and neglecting the problem and for others they think it is normal and try to mask it by avoiding those teeth when it comes to certain food items. When tooth sensitivity is present it becomes difficult at times to enjoy our favorite food and drink or even brush our teeth properly.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity?
The pain or discomfort you feel when a tooth is exposed to hot or cold temperatures or even an acidic food or drink. This is the hallmark sign of tooth sensitivity. There are 3 layers of a tooth. These are called enamel, dentin, and pulp. The enamel is the harder outer shell that covers your teeth. Tooth enamel is considered the hardest mineral substance in the body. Even stronger than bone. There is one other piece to the puzzle and that is cementum. Cementum covers and protects the root surface where the enamel does not cover. When something happens to the enamel or cementum you end up with tooth sensitivity. The enamel could be damaged thru tooth decay or trauma while the cementum can be lost due to periodontal disease.
–Worn Down Enamel. Enamel can be damaged in a variety of ways. These can include overly aggressive brushing, tooth trauma, tooth enamel erosion from acidic drinks, and even teeth whitening products if not used as directed. In areas where the enamel breaks down it will expose the soft underlayer, the dentin. The dentin has tubules that connect to the inner layer the pulp. The pulp is where all the nerves and blood is. This will cause you tooth sensitivity to begin to develop.
–Periodontal Disease. This is a progressive disease that triggers an inflammatory response in the mouth. If left untreated it can progress from gingivitis (reversible) to periodontitis (non reversible). Periodontitis will lead to destruction of cementum, gingival tissues, and bone surrounding your teeth. Once the roots of your teeth are exposed, you will develop tooth sensitivity.
–Bruxism. Also referred to as teeth grinding. When we grind our teeth we put extreme forces on our teeth. This force can lead to cracks in the enamel on your teeth. Once those cracks form, it exposes the soft dentin beneath leading to tooth sensitivity.
Tips If You Have Tooth Sensitivity
-Softer Toothbrushing. Brushing technique should include use of a soft-bristled brush and use at a 45 degree angle to your gum. this will help prevent damage to your enamel and gum tissues.
-NO! acidic foods and drinks. These will only cause you pain and discomfort if you already suffer from tooth sensitivity. But if you do choose to consume these wait about 30 minutes after bruhing to give you a chance not to feel so much pain or discomfort.
-Slow Down On Teeth Whitening. Teeth whitening can cause temporary tooth sensitivity. If you do develop tooth sensitivity while undergoing teeth whitening treatment speak to your dentist immediately.
How Is Tooth Sensitivity Treated?
Dentistry is highly personalized care. Tooth sensitivity is no different. The treatment for tooth sensitivity will depend on the cause. A proper diagnosis is necessary to develop a proper treatment plan for your tooth sensitivity. Tooth sensitivity treatment can include:
-Use Of Desensitizing Toothpaste. A common over the counter toothpaste is called Sensodyne. This toothpaste acts to seal those tubules present in the dentin. By sealing those tubules, it will remove or diminish the tooth sensitivity you may be feeling. Sensodyne contains, calcium, phosphate, as well as fluoride.
-Fluroide Treatment. This can be done at home or in office. In office, the fluoride will be applied using a tray and applied to your teeth giving adequate coverage. There are also take prescription home rinses that can be used by the patient as needed.
-Custom Fabricated Mouth Guards. This would be used to ward off damage from teeth grinding that can cause tooth sensitivity.
-Restore Broken, Chipped, or Fractured teeth. This can include dental bonding or dental crowns to restore your teeth to a healthier state and prevent tooth sensitivity.
-Periodontal Disease Treatment. This can include bone grafting as well as gum grafts to cover the root surfaces of your teeth that have been exposed.
–Root Canal Therapy (RCT). In some cases tooth sensitivity is caused by a dental infection present inside a tooth.
What Causes Tooth Sensitivity? Conclusion
Now you know the causes of tooth sensitivity it is important to address these issues if you have them with your dentist. Be proactive and treat tooth sensitivity before it gets out of control.