What You Should Know About Root Canal Therapy

Published on August 15, 2016 | Newsletter

Were you recently recommended root canal therapy? If so, you may have lingering questions about why it’s needed, what it entails, and what your options may be.

Why Is a Root Canal Recommended?

Root canal therapy (also called a root canal or RCT) is recommended when your tooth’s nerve and pulp become permanently damaged due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures on a tooth, large fillings, a crack or chip in the tooth, or trauma to the face. It’s recommended to relieve toothache, stop infection, and promote healing.

Why Is Your Tooth Pulp Removed?

When a tooth’s nerve tissue or pulp is damaged, irritated, and infected, it breaks down and bacteria develop within the pulp chamber. The bacteria and other decayed debris can cause an infection or an abscess, a pus-filled pocket that forms when the infection spreads all the way past the ends of the roots of the tooth. An infection can also cause:

  • Swelling that may spread to other areas of the face, neck,or head

  • Bone loss around the tip of the root

  • Drainage problems extending outward from the root.

How Painful Is a Root Canal?

Root canals have the reputation of being painful. In reality, most people report that the procedure itself is no more painful than having a filling placed. Most pain associated with root canals stem from the infection signalling the need for the treatment, not from the actual procedure itself.

What Should You Expect?

RCT procedures require dedicated amounts of your dentist’s time, and your appointment will be carefully scheduled to allow for the most comfortable experience possible. Your doctor will numb your teeth and gums around the decayed tooth, and then use special tools to remove the infected pulp. Your tooth is then filled with medicines, temporary filling materials, and a final root canal filling.

After the root canal, the standard of care is to place a crown. When the dental pulp is removed, the tooth becomes more brittle and more easily damaged. If a crown is already on the tooth, the dentist will assess whether the existing crown needs to be replaced or not. If not, just a permanent filling is needed. If a new crown is needed, our dentist will discuss the next steps in care following your root canal treatment with you.

Our helpful post-op forms will aid you and your recovery after the procedure.

Alternative Treatment and No Treatment

You may ask, “Why not just pull the tooth?” or “It’s not bothering me – why not just wait?” Saving your natural teeth, if possible, is the very best option. Extracting a tooth without any additional restorative treatment can create dental issues later on. Root canals and crowns are a cost-effective way to treat teeth with damaged pulp and is usually less expensive than extraction and placement of a bridge or an implant.

You may not be experiencing any pain at this moment or the pain comes and goes. Not getting root canal treatment done in a timely manner often results in painful emergency visits that can be more costly and inconvenient. Delaying treatment until it’s “necessary” subjects you to avoidable pain and may reduce the chances of your tooth being savable.

We hope this educational newsletter answers any questions that you may have about root canal therapy. Call today (888) 365-6531 to reserve time for your next visit.

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