The root canal procedure is often the only way a badly decayed, damaged, or infected tooth can be saved. And yet the term “root canal” often insights fear in many people even though it should inspire admiration.
Root canal therapy has proven extremely effective in repairing damaged teeth, with a success rate ranging from 86 to 98 percent. This dental procedure helps patients avoid the destructive bone loss of missing teeth and more costly tooth replacement procedures such as bridges and dental implants. In addition to these benefits, these newly restored teeth can last a lifetime after a filling or crown with good dental and oral hygiene.
What Are Root Canal Treatments?
Root canal therapy is an endodontic procedure (treatment involving the inner tissues of the teeth) used to restore and save a badly damaged or infected tooth rather than extract it. A root canal procedure involves cleaning the canals inside the tooth root, removing the inflamed pulp, and placing a filling to seal the space.
Decades ago, these treatments were often quite painful. But now, most people experience little to no pain during their treatment, thanks to advances in dental technology and local anesthetics. Dental extractions are an alternative to root canal therapy, and your dentist can replace a damaged tooth with a bridge, partial denture, or implant-supported crown. This, however, is a costly procedure that usually necessitates multiple visits to your dental office.
Why Do Root Canals Have Such a Bad Reputation?
One of the most common dental treatments performed by endodontics specialists is root canal treatment. When a root canal is required, the patient usually has severe toothaches and other pain. Abscesses, infections, or injuries to a tooth’s inner canals can pressure the nerves, resulting in such pain. In addition to these discomforts, patients may also experience swelling around the face caused by infected pulp. If left untreated, this infection could continue to spread to adjacent teeth and other parts of the body.
Endodontic treatments, such as root canals, necessitate entering the tooth’s interior channels to address the bacterial infection. In the past, this procedure would have entailed multiple visits to the dentist, which would have caused severe pain to the patient. But with modern dental technology, anesthetics, and techniques, they are now about as uncomfortable as getting a filling. But people continue to avoid this dental procedure out of fear of pain and the possibility of complications.
Modern root canal surgery can usually be completed in one visit, with the same level of discomfort as a cavity extraction and filling. While the tooth may remain painful following the surgery, the infection or damage that was causing the patient’s extreme discomfort has been resolved, providing relief rather than anguish.
What Should I Expect During the Procedure?
Our highly skilled dentist at Big Smile Dental will administer a numbing medication for your comfort, and the tooth to be treated will be isolated from the rest of your mouth with a thin rubber or vinyl sheet called a dental dam. This keeps naturally existing mouth bacteria away from the treated tooth, resulting in a sterile environment.
During this dental treatment, the inner part of the tooth is accessed via a small hole to remove diseased soft tissue with special instruments. The tooth is then cleaned out and disinfected. Without pulp and nerve tissue, the tooth will no longer feel pain, and patients can sleep and eat comfortably once more.
Root canals will also be shaped, filled, and sealed with an adhesive material to prevent bacteria from re-entering the tooth and causing future infection. The hole created to access the pulp chamber is also filled. Suppose tooth decay has advanced to where there is insufficient structure to hold the temporary filling in place. In that case, you will be instructed to avoid chewing on that tooth until it receives its permanent filling, which can be placed a few days later.
A temporary crown is placed to protect the prepared tooth as it heals, while the permanent crown is made in a lab. After around two weeks, you’ll return to the Big Smile Dental office to get your permanent, new tooth. Then the fun part starts: You get to enjoy a better-looking smile, free of pain. You can enjoy your new tooth for a long time because modern root canal-treated teeth can last a lifetime.
Root Canal Treatments
Following your treatment, the restored tooth with the new crown should function like a natural tooth and appear cosmetically pleasing. And while there should be no significant pain after the procedure, you may experience sensitivity for the first few days. These are normal symptoms that can be effectively managed with prescription or over-the-counter pain relievers. In most cases, the side effects subside within one to two weeks. However, if the pain or pressure persists for more than a few days, consult your dentist or an endodontic treatment specialist.
It’s also important to follow any instructions while waiting for your permanent crown to prevent reinfection, and be sure to visit Big Smile Dental for cleanings and exams as prescribed by Dr. Siegel and the team. With our friendly dental team in Chicago, you can prevent the need for future root canal treatment and keep your teeth looking and feeling their best.
Root Canal Therapy
Frequently Asked Questions About Root Canal Treatment
If you’re interested in more information about dental veneers or other dental restorative options, call Big Smile Dental today! Our team is happy to schedule a consultation at a time that works with your schedule.
Your new smile is waiting for you!