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Root Canals

Root canal therapy (also known as a “root canal”) is a procedure that involves the removal of infection from the root of a tooth. People are often afraid of this procedure because it is rumored to be very painful. In reality, it’s a relatively painless experience (due to the use of a local anesthetic). If you are experiencing tooth pain, it’s important to have it looked at. If your dentist finds the roots of your tooth are infected, they will schedule you for a root canal procedure.

The Anatomy of Your Teeth

In order to understand a root canal procedure, you’ll first need to understand the anatomy of your teeth. There are multiple parts of each of your teeth. The part you can see above the gumline is the crown. This part of the tooth has a hard exterior that’s called the “enamel.” Below that is the dentin. The center of each of your teeth is filled with pulp. This is made up of connective tissue, nerves, and blood vessels. The soft tissue of your teeth delivers nutrients, which keep your teeth healthy and viable. Finally, there are the roots. These make up two-thirds of each tooth, and the legs of which carry the nerves from the top of the root into the pulp chamber. While some teeth have multiple roots, some have just one. When you feel hot or cold in your tooth, this is due to the nerves in the roots.

Signs That You Need a Root Canal

There are a few things that you’ll want to look for to see if you need a root canal. One of the most obvious is a severe toothache. You may also notice increased sensitivity when eating hot or cold food.  You may experience pain and discomfort when biting and chewing. Swollen gums are another sign of a tooth infection.

A root infection begins with a cavity. From there, the infection spreads downward and gets into the dentin, then the pulp. You may also get a tooth infection due to a cracked tooth. This exposes the inside of your tooth to bacteria.

You’ll start to notice significant pain once the infection gets to the pulp of your tooth, as the nerves are located there. At this point, you’ll need a root canal procedure to save the tooth. Keep in mind, if you allow the infection to continue to spread, you may need to have the tooth extracted. If it spreads down even further than that, you may even get a jaw infection.

Once you notice the signs that you need a root canal, reach out to Oxboro Dental. We’ll take a look at the tooth and determine the best treatment approach.

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The Root Canal Procedure

The process of a root canal procedure begins with a trip to the dentist when you are experiencing pain in your tooth. They will x-ray the area to see the extent of the damage. Once they have determined that your tooth can be saved, they will schedule your root canal procedure. The procedure itself should take around 30-90 minutes, depending on the number of roots. This procedure can be completed in a single session.

Once the procedure begins, your dentist will use a local numbing agent, then administer a local anesthetic around the tooth that is being repaired. You’ll feel a small pinch during the shot. A dental dam (a small rubber sheet) is placed to ensure the tooth stays dry and clean. Next, a small hole is made at the top of the tooth’s crown. Small files and tools are used to remove the infection from the chamber and root or roots. The chamber of the tooth will be washed to remove damaged pulp. An antimicrobial solution will then be used to ensure any leftover bacteria is removed and to ensure a lower risk of another infection. Once this is completed, the chamber will be dried and filled with a material called gutta-percha. This is similar to rubber. A temporary filling will be placed until the permanent filling can be placed. A crown may be placed depending on the damage to the tooth. Before you know it, your tooth will be cleared of the infection.

If you have additional questions about the root canal treatment procedure, reach out to Oxboro Dental. We’d be happy to provide you with any information you may need.

Benefits of a Root Canal

There are a few benefits to a root canal. One is stopping the pain you are experiencing due to infection, which can be quite severe. Another, extremely important benefit is the ability to keep your natural tooth. If the tooth is too far gone, it needs to be extracted. Dentists prefer to avoid extractions and do whatever they can to save the tooth. You’ll also be able to bite and chew without experiencing pain. The discomfort from hot and cold food will cease as well.

If the tooth is damaged to the point where the crown cannot be saved, a dental crown will be placed. This provides additional protection and can last years if properly cared for. With that said, a dental crown will be avoided if possible.

Schedule Your Next Appointment

If you don’t already have an appointment in the books for a regular cleaning and checkup, make sure you reach out to Oxboro Dental today to get one scheduled. By getting a cleaning and checkup every six months, you can avoid issues that lead to root infections, to begin with. If you have tooth decay and cavities, they can be addressed immediately before the infection spreads to the roots or the jawbone.

If you notice pain in your tooth or jaw, schedule an appointment with your dentist for as soon as possible. If it is severe and you are experiencing swelling, fever, pus, and other symptoms, you may need to schedule an emergency appointment. These are symptoms of serious infection.

If you have any questions, reach out to Oxboro Dental. We’d be happy to answer them.