Root canals are a necessary procedure for patients who end up with an infected tooth. Not treating the tooth could lead to tooth loss or, worse, the infection spreading to other parts of the body. Many people get nervous when they hear that they have to have a root canal, but they often leave the procedure surprised at how much easier it was than expected and how little time it took.
Endicott Dental is all about providing comfort to our patients, including during root canals. How common are root canals? Pretty common! You may be surprised at how much faster and easier simple root canals are than you believe. The key to being comfortable with having a root canal is understanding what it is and how it’s done. Here are some facts you may not know about root canals.
What Is a Root Canal?
Your tooth is made up of three layers. The enamel is the hard outer shell that protects the inner portions of your tooth. The dentin is the softer inner layer that protects the pulp, which is the center layer. The pulp contains the nerves and blood vessels that keep the tooth alive. If the inner portion of the tooth gets infected, it must be repaired before it gets to the living portion of the tooth, where more serious damage can be done.
A root canal is performed to clean out a tooth that has become infected inside from a deep cavity before it can cause further damage. Essentially, the dentin and pulp of the tooth are dug out and replaced by a material that maintains the integrity of the tooth, along with an antibiotic coating to ensure no further infection develops or spreads.
How Long Does a Root Canal Take?
Some people think root canals take hours, but that’s not the case at all. Once you’re properly sedated, a root canal can take up to 90 minutes depending on the tooth. The incisors and canines (front teeth) only have one root, so it usually takes less than an hour to clean and fill them.
Premolars, which sit between your front and back teeth, have two roots. It takes a little more time to clean out both roots, so expect your root canal to take an hour or so with premolars. The molars (back teeth) are big teeth with four roots each. A proper root canal requires all of the roots to be cleaned out, so it can take 90 minutes or so to complete.
Why Do You Need a Root Canal?
Cavities left untreated can go beyond the enamel and dentin. If the pulp of your tooth gets infected, tooth decay is what happens meaning the tooth could die and fall out. Worse, the infection could spread, which could damage your jaw and endanger other teeth. A serious tooth infection could even lead to a dangerous blood infection called sepsis. That could be a threat to your overall health. The best way to avoid a root canal is to make sure you are brushing and flossing regularly.
The procedure cleans out and eliminates the infection, which also eliminates the danger of spreading it to other areas. That’s why it’s important to have a root canal done as soon as possible if your dentist recommends it.
What Is the Root Canal Procedure?
Root canals have become a standard practice for dentists and endodontists. The procedure is safe and effective, and you’re in good hands with Dr. Endicott’s skills. Here’s what to expect:
- Dr. Endicott starts by sedating you either by numbing the gum using local anesthesia or using more moderate or deeper sedation, depending on your anxiety level. Our goal is for you to be comfortable throughout your procedure.
- A hole is drilled into the top of the tooth to expose the pulp and its infection. The pulp and dentin are removed, and an antibiotic coating is put inside the tooth to prevent further infection.
- A synthetic material is injected into the tooth to fill and seal it, then a temporary filling is used to cover the hole and allow the inside material to set.
- The patient returns a couple of weeks later to receive a permanent filling or a crown to ensure the tooth is well-sealed and protected.
Are Root Canals Painful?
Endicott Dental uses various levels of sedation to ensure our patients are relaxed and comfortable throughout their procedure. Because you’re numbed and sedated, the actual procedure should be painless. Once the medication has worn off, you may be sore for a day or two, but that should start to subside after that. You may take a pain medication like Tylenol or ibuprofen to help with the soreness.
What to eat after root canal? We recommend you stick to soft foods for the first day or two after your procedure. If you’re wondering can you smoke after a root canal, avoid smoking during the first two days. In general, root canal recovery time is only a couple of days, if that.
Often, our patients have far more pain with the infected tooth than with the root canal. The infection damages the nerves in the tooth, causing extreme pain. Some patients are unable to eat or even speak well with an infected tooth. The root canal eliminates not only the infection but the damaged nerves, so you may actually feel relief once the procedure is done!
Root Canals in Broken Arrow, OK
The rumors about root canals often make them scarier than the actual procedures. The truth is the root canal is a tried-and-true procedure for removing infection while saving the tooth. If you have a persistent toothache and feel you may need a root canal in Broken Arrow, OK, schedule an appointment with Endicott Dental. We can clean out your tooth and have you feeling better in no time. You may be surprised at how much better you feel once that problem tooth is fixed!