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Root Canal Treatment: We’re Answering Your Questions

Have you heard scary things about getting a root canal treatment? We can help ease your fears and shed some light on this common treatment that helps relieve the tooth pain for so many of our patients.

Typically, we get a lot of questions from our patients. For example: What is a root canal? What are the symptoms? How can I avoid needing a root canal treatment? And … Is it gonna hurt?

First, here are some interesting root canal statistics:

  • A root canal performed on any tooth (front or back) with a nerve
  • Most teeth are fixed with root canal therapy with a 95 percent success rate
  • A root canal is a standard and very common procedure
  • Since the roots aren’t necessary for the tooth to function, they can be removed
  • There is only one main purpose for the tooth’s nerve: to provide the feeling or sensation of cold and hot
  • Nearly 15 million root canals are performed each year in the United States
  • Most teeth fixed with root canal therapy can last a lifetime
  • Some roots have more than one root canal, but all have at least one canal

Let’s get started!

What is a Root Canal?

The term “root canal” is used to refer to two different things:

  1. the dental procedure used to remove infected material and relieve root canal pain
  2. the inner part (passages) of the tooth between the pulp and tooth roots, containing nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue

Today we’re going to talk about the dental procedure.

It’s pretty straight forward … a root canal treatment is an attempt to save your tooth after your nerve has been exposed to bacteria from a crack or has become permanently aggravated. And it will get you out of pain!

Related Article: Will my dentist pull my tooth?

A root canal treatment is required when a tooth is badly decayed or seriously infected. To protect the tooth, the nerve and its surrounding tooth pulp are removed, and the tooth is permanently sealed or closed. The interior of the tooth is left virtually resistant to future decay.

What do these terms mean?

  • Dental Pulp: is the soft substance in the center of the tooth that consists of the nerve, blood vessels, and connective tissue.
  • Pulp Chamber: is the hollow part in the center of the tooth that contains the pulp and continues down canals that extend through the roots of teeth and into the bone around the tooth.

What causes a root canal?

DECAY that leads to INFECTION causes your tooth to need a root canal treatment.

Here are the two main causes:

Decay: Decay (commonly referred to as a cavity) is the main reason patients need to have a root canal treatment. If a cavity becomes large enough before it is treated, it can enter your pulp chamber or nerve. If bacteria enter this chamber, it causes severe pain, and will cause an infection.

As a result, a root canal is needed to save your tooth and reduce pain.

Trauma: If your tooth cracks or breaks, there’s a chance you’ll need a root canal treatment, because trauma to your tooth can expose your pulp chamber, damage your nerve and cause severe pain.

Again, the nerve will need to be removed to salvage your tooth.

If I need a root canal, what symptoms will I be experiencing?

Sometimes, a person may ignore the symptoms for a while. It takes some time for this type of infection to take root and they can be completely avoided; that’s why it’s important to schedule regular dental appointments.

In other cases, a person may show no symptoms.

These symptoms indicate a root canal may be needed:

  • Severe toothache pain from chewing or putting pressure on the area
  • Your tooth may start to hurt in the middle of the night; you wake up with severe tooth pain
  • Your tooth hurts longer than it should after exposure to hot or cold temperatures
  • Drainage, tenderness and swelling surrounding the tooth, in the nearby bone, gum tissues or lymph nodes
  • A “rotten” taste in your mouth
  • Discoloration or darkening of the tooth
  • Dental abscess

What you should know about a dental abscess:

  • An abscess is a small, pimple-like bump on the gums near the area of tooth pain
  • Sometimes it causes significant swelling of the jaw, cheek, or throat.
  • Bleeding or swelling around the tooth may occur if you have an abscess.
  • If this swelling is noticed, treatment needs are urgent, and you need to contact GPS Dental for a dental emergency appointment.

IMPORTANT: if you’re experiencing tooth pain, call to schedule an appointment with Dr. Skrobanek immediately!!

Related Article: Reasons to have a root canal: What symptoms should I look for?

Do all toothaches require a root canal treatment?

Sometimes you may feel intense tooth pain that makes you think you need root canal treatment, but the pain is a symptom of another problem requiring a completely different treatment. Such as:

  • Sinus congestion can produce pressure around the roots of the upper teeth and cause pain upon chewing, which mimics root canal pain. 
  • Gum disease can also mimic the throbbing pain around teeth that can feel like root canal pain.
  • Exposed root surfaces as a result of gum recession can mimic cold sensitivity.
  • Jaw pain can either be an indication of pain in the jaw joint or pain referred from a tooth needing a root canal.

Can I avoid needing a root canal treatment?

Here are some common causes and how to avoid needing a root canal:

Failure to Brush or Floss Regularly

Prevention is key! Brushing your teeth (twice a day) is the most important thing you can do each day to avoid tooth decay is brushing your teeth.

Cavities and root canals are prevented the same way … by brushing your teeth consistently. Brushing will interrupt the growth of bacteria that turns into plaque.

Flossing is essential too, because it helps clean hard-to-reach areas in between your teeth and remove any food particles left behind.

Forgetting to Visit the Dentist

Millions of people face some anxiety about going to the dentist. At GPS Dental in San Antonio, TX, we make it easy for you. A compassionate, experienced dental team can help spot early warning signs of decay, infection and other issues you might not notice on your own. Treating a cavity early, before it leads to decay, is one of the easiest ways to avoid needing a root canal treatment.

Related Article: Why is it important to visit the dentist twice a year?

Long-Term Gum Disease

Periodontal disease, also referred to as “gum disease” is a long-term infection process that attacks the soft tissue that supports, binds, and provides blood flow to your teeth. If you have symptoms like discoloration or bleeding in your gums, it could mean gum disease, which can spread throughout your mouth and needs immediate attention.

Related Article: Can a simple cavity turn into Gum Disease?

What is root canal procedure?

During a root canal treatment or procedure, the infected pulp and nerve are completely removed. Then, the tooth’s interior is cleaned and permanently sealed. A dental crown is then placed on top of the affected tooth to make sure it maintains its proper function — chewing.

Will I need a dental crown after having a root canal treatment?

The short answer is: Yes.

You will need a dental crown after your root canal treatment. A dental crown is a tooth-shaped cap that will be placed over a root canal-treated tooth at a second appointment (usually a week later). It is designed protect the remaining tooth structure and continue the function of the molar teeth, which is chewing food. This will also guard against any future tooth pain.

Will a root canal treatment be painful?

Root canal treatments have gotten a bad reputation as a painful procedure; however, it can be less painful than having a cavity filled. The real pain you experience is typically BEFORE you get a root canal treatment completed.

Once your procedure is complete, you will be OUT of Pain!

Be sure to follow a regular oral hygiene routine after your root canal treatment to maintain your crown and avoid future issues. Use a soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste designed specifically for sensitive teeth, If you notice increased tooth sensitivity after a root canal.

If you are suffering from a toothache, we can help!

Suffering from the pain of a toothache is an awful way to live … We want our patients to be able to go about their day, PAIN FREE!! If you or one of your family members is in pain, please call to schedule an emergency dental appointment with Dr. Skrobanek. We want to make sure to treat you as quickly as possible.

Dr. Gary P. Skrobanek’s experienced and friendly team at GPS Dental offers affordable dental care for all ages in San Antonio, TX area. Our Brooks City Base dentist office is conveniently located and offers early morning appointment times Monday through Friday to meet your needs. At GPS Dental, we promote dental health awareness to our patients and provide most dental services, from family and general dentistry to dental implantssleep apneaTMJ / TMD Treatmentcosmetic dentistry and much more. We accept most dental insurance plans and offer affordable financial solutions for any budget. Call us at 210-633-3477 to make an appointment.