The term root canal can strike fear into patients but it’s actually a surprisingly straightforward procedure. When the inside of a tooth is decaying, a root canal is performed to clean and seal the tooth.
Once completed, a root canal can save the tooth and prevent further decay and bacteria build-up. In addition, a root canal ensures the inside of the tooth is perfectly clean, which prevents painful abscesses or infections from forming.
If you’ve noticed a niggling pain or discomfort in your tooth or gum, it’s important to make an appointment with your dentist. By discussing your symptoms and examining your teeth, your dentist will be able to determine what’s causing the issue and what type of treatment is necessary.
What are root canal symptoms?
When you need a root canal, it’s typically because there is bacteria or decay inside a tooth. This can cause a range of symptoms, including:
- Prolonged sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures (even when the item is removed from mouth)
- Pain when chewing on the affected tooth or when applying pressure to it
- Tenderness or swelling of the gums
- Discoloration of the tooth
- A pimple on the gum near the affected area
Although root canal symptoms can sometimes cause a considerable amount of discomfort, you may only experience relatively mild symptoms or even no symptoms at all.
By acting quickly and consulting your dentist at the first sign of a problem, your root canal symptoms can be kept to a minimum and the treatment can be performed swiftly.
What does root canal treatment involve?
In simple terms, the root canal is a natural cavity that is inside the tooth. Within this area is the pulp of the tooth, and the nerve of the tooth runs through the root canal. If the tooth’s pulp or nerve is damaged or subject to decay, you may experience root canal symptoms.
Usually, a root canal procedure is performed over two appointments. Firstly, your dentist will examine the affected area and may perform one or two x-rays to confirm that a root canal is required. These images enable your dentist to pinpoint the exact location of decay and damage and plan your treatment accordingly.
Patients usually opt for a local anesthetic before undergoing a root canal procedure, although patients may choose to have light sedation if they’re particularly nervous. This involves placing a small mask over your nose and allowing you to breathe in an appropriate dose of nitrous oxide. Although you won’t fall asleep, this type of sedation is designed to make you feel calm and at ease.
To begin resolving your root canal symptoms, your dentist will make a small access hole in the tooth. This enables him or her to remove the pulp from the center of the tooth. As well as removing the tooth’s pulp, your dentist will ensure that any other debris and bacteria are removed. Water is used to flush out the inside of the tooth, to make sure that it’s completely free of debris.
Once your tooth has been cleaned out, your dentist will seal it. However, if an infection is present your dentist may choose not to seal the tooth one the same day as the cleaning process. In some cases, they may apply some topical medication to help treat the infection. Following this, your dentist will apply a temporary filling to keep the inside of your tooth clean and ask you to return in a few days.
When sealing the tooth, your dentist will gently place some sealant paste and special rubber inside the tooth. On top of this, a standard filling is used to repair the exterior portion of the tooth. White fillings are typically used as these maintain the natural look of your teeth. However, amalgam or silver fillings can also be used, in some instances.
What happens after a root canal procedure?
Your root canal symptoms should be completely resolved following the procedure, so you’ll be free from any pain or discomfort you were experiencing. Your dentist may advise you to avoid chewing on the affected area for a few hours after the procedure, as this gives the filling enough time to settle.
Following this, you’ll be able to eat and drink as normal. Although a tooth may have decreased sensitivity after a root canal procedure has been performed, it will still function in exactly the same way as your other teeth.
To learn more about root canal symptoms, contact us at Patient Empowered Dentistry now on 586.771.6340.