You’ve asked and we’re going to answer some of most common questions we get about Root Canal Treatments …
Keep reading to find out… What is a root canal? What are the symptoms? How can I avoid needing a root canal? And … is it gonna hurt?
First, here are some interesting root canal statistics:
- A root canal is a standard and very common procedure
- Nearly 15 million root canals are performed each year in the United States
- Most teeth are fixed with root canal therapy with a 95 percent success rate
- Most teeth fixed with root canal therapy can last a lifetime
- Since the roots aren’t necessary for the tooth to function, they can be removed
- Some roots have more than one root canal, but all have at least one canal
- There is only one main purpose for the tooth’s nerve: to provide the feeling or sensation of cold and hot
- A root canal performed on any tooth (front or back) with a nerve
Now, let’s dig in!
Question 1: What is a Root Canal?
The term “root canal” is used to refer to two different things:
- the inner part (passages) of the tooth between the pulp and tooth roots, containing nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue
- the dental procedure used to remove infected material and relieve root canal pain
Today we’re going to talk about the dental procedure or root canal treatments in general.
It’s simple … after your nerve has been exposed to bacteria from a crack, or has become permanently inflamed, a root canal is an attempt to save your tooth (and get you out of pain!!).
Root canal treatments are necessary 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 shut. The interior of the tooth is left virtually resistant to future decay.
What do these terms mean?
- Dental Pulp: soft substance in the center of the tooth that consists of the nerve, blood vessels, and connective tissue.
- Pulp Chamber: 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 surrounding bone.
Question 2: What causes a root canal?
Plain and simple … INFECTION from DECAY can cause your tooth to need root canal treatments.
Here are the two main causes:
- Decay: Decay (or a cavity) is the main reason patients need to have a root canal treatment. If a cavity becomes large enough, 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 good chance you’ll need a root canal, 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.
Question 3: What symptoms will I be experiencing, if I need a root canal treatment?
Sometimes, a person may be disregarding the symptoms for quite a while. After all, it takes some time for this type of infection to take root. That’s why it’s important to schedule regular dental exam 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 hurts longer than it should after exposure to hot or cold temperatures
- Discoloration or darkening of the tooth
- Drainage, tenderness and swelling surrounding the tooth, in the nearby bone, gum tissues or lymph nodes
- A “rotten” taste in your mouth
- Your tooth may start to hurt in the middle of the night; you wake up with severe tooth pain
- Dental abscess
- An abscess is a small, pimple-like bump on the gums near the area of tooth pain
- Bleeding or swelling around the tooth may occur if you have an abscess
- Sometimes it causes significant swelling of the jaw, cheek, or throat
- If this swelling is noticed, treatment needs are urgent, and you need to contact Adams Dental Group for a dental emergency appointment
IMPORTANT: if you’re experiencing tooth pain, call to schedule an appointment with Dr. Skrobanek immediately!!
Learn more about Painful Dental Emergency: We Can Get You Out of Pain in San Antonio
Symptoms from Tooth Pain that may not need a Root Canal:
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 different treatment. Such as:
- Exposed root surfaces as a result of gum recession can mimic cold sensitivity.
- Sinus congestion can produce pressure around the roots of the upper teeth and cause pain upon chewing, which mimics root canal pain.
- Jaw pain can either be an indication of pain in the jaw joint or pain referred from a tooth needing a root canal.
- Gum disease can also mimic the throbbing pain around teeth that can feel like root canal pain.
Question 4: How do I avoid needing root canal treatments?
Here are some common causes and how to avoid needing a root canal:
Failure to Brush or Floss Regularly
Prevention is key! The most important thing you can do each day (we suggest twice a day) to avoid tooth decay is brushing your teeth.
Root canals and cavities are prevented the same way, by brushing regularly. Brushing will interrupt the development of bacteria that turns into plaque. Flossing is vital as well, because it helps clean out hard-to-reach areas in between your teeth.
Forgetting to Visit the Dentist
Millions of people face some trepidation about going to the dentist. At GPS Dental in the Brooks City Base area of San Antonio, TX we make it easy for you. A caring, experienced dental team can help spot early warning signs of infection and other issues you might not notice on your own. Catching a cavity early, before it leads to infection, is one of the easiest ways to avoid a root canal treatment.
Long-Term Gum Disease
Gum Disease, also referred to as “periodontal disease” is a long-term infection process. Attacking the soft tissue that supports, binds, and provides blood flow to the teeth. If you have symptoms like discoloration or bleeding in your gums, it could mean gum disease, which can spread throughout your entire mouth and needs attention immediately.
Related Article: What You Need to Know to Avoid Gum Disease
Question 5: What is root canal procedure?
During a root canal procedure, the infected nerve and pulp are simply removed. Then, the tooth’s interior is cleaned and permanently sealed. A crown is then placed on top of the affected tooth to make sure it maintains its proper function — chewing.
Question 6: Will I need a dental crown after a root canal treatment?
Yes, you’ll need a dental crown after your root canal treatment. A crown, is a tooth-shaped cap that will be placed over a root canal-treated tooth at your next appointment (usually a week later). It will protect the remaining tooth structure and continue the function of the molar teeth, which is chewing food. This will also guard against any tooth pain in the future.
Want to know more about the nuts and bolts of dental crowns? Click here.
Question 7: Will a root canal treatment be painful?
It’s thought to be severely 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 done. After your procedure, you will be OUT of Pain!
After a root canal, be sure to follow a regular oral care routine to maintain your crown and avoid future issues. If you notice increased tooth sensitivity after a root canal, try using a soft-bristled toothbrush and a toothpaste designed specifically for sensitive teeth.
Learn more about: Root Canal Treatment: Root Canal Myths Debunked
If you’re suffering from tooth pain, we can help!
We hope we’ve answered some of your questions about getting a root canal treatment; however, if you have additional questions … we’d love to answer them too! Please contact our office at 210-633-3477. Of course, if you’re in pain from a toothache or think you need a root canal treatment, please let us know that you’re in pain when you call us, so we can schedule your appointment as a dental emergency and get you in immediately!
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 implants, sleep apnea, TMJ / TMD Treatment, cosmetic 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.