“Root canal treatment” is one of the most feared phrases in the dental care world. This is an unfortunate carry-over from less enlightened dental times. The irony is that root canal treatment does not have to be painful, and can, in fact, provide relief from pain, rather than cause it.
Why is a root canal treatment necessary? The diagram to the right illustrates what happens when you get an infection in a tooth. Because the material of the tooth cannot swell, the pulp (and sometimes the surrounding tissues) are damaged and then destroyed by an infection. If root canal treatment is not done, this infection can spread to other teeth. An abscess (also called an abscessed tooth) can be exceptionally painful and it rarely resolves on its own.
Do you need a root canal treatment?
You may need a root canal treatment if:
- You have a tooth that aches badly enough to wake you up in the night
- Drinking hot or cold liquids leaves you with moderate to severe lingering tooth pain
- You have a tooth that is sensitive when you tap or press on it
- You have a pimple on your gum that releases pus or blood when pressed on
- You have pain that radiates from one part of your mouth to another
- You have moderate to severe pain when you bite down on a particular tooth
We make root canal treatments as painless as possible
Sometimes, when the nerves of the tooth are already dead, no Novocain is even necessary to treat the infected tooth. If you are nervous or fearful of this procedure, we can easily and effectively treat this while you are under nitrous oxide or laughing gas. This will keep you relaxed during the procedure.
It can take one to three visits to fully complete a root canal. We remove the nerve, blood and nutrient supply to the tooth during treatment, which means that over time the tooth may become brittle. If necessary, we may recommend a crown to protect the tooth from fracturing later, which might necessitate removal.
During and after treatments, you may experience sensitivity to hot and/or cold as well as pressure and swelling. If you do experience swelling, we may need to prescribe an antibiotic, so call our office if this symptom occurs. If you are uncomfortable, often the pain is managed very well with over-the-counter anti-inflamatory pain medication, such as Ibuprofen. If you would be more comfortable with something a little stronger, we can prescribe a pain reliever.
If you have a painful tooth and think you might need a root canal treatment, call us or request an appointment online.