A root canal is an endodontic treatment that is used to treat an infection. Root canals are needed when untreated tooth decay or dental trauma causes damage to the dental pulp or an infection.
The dental pulp is the soft inside layer of the tooth, underneath the dentin and enamel. It is connected to the tooth’s nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels which is why a tooth infection is often very painful.
To cure the infection, we need to remove its source, which would be the dental pulp, all the way down to the tooth’s roots. We will remove the dental pulp, clean your canals, and refill the tooth. A dental crown may be placed on the rear molars to protect them from wear and tear.
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A root canal is necessary when you have damaged or infected dental pulp. This can occur as a result of tooth decay that has penetrated deep through the tooth or due to dental trauma. How do you know you need root canal therapy? Look out for these signs:
Keep in mind that patients don’t always present with symptoms even if they do need a root canal. If you suspect your tooth is infected, contact us at your Reno dentist today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Chelsea Dean.
Consultation - You will need to come in for a consultation with Dr. Dean so we can examine your tooth and take x-rays to look at the extent of pulp damage. We will be able to determine if the tooth is salvageable with root canal treatment or if it will need to be extracted.
Pulpectomy - We will numb your mouth with local anesthesia. Then, we will drill an access hole into your tooth and remove all of your dental pulp, including the root. This will relieve any pain you have.
Canal Cleaning - Each tooth contains between 1-4 canals and each of these will need to be cleaned, disinfected, and reshaped. Molars have more canals so this step will take longer in posterior teeth. This may take multiple appointments to complete. If multiple appointments are needed to complete cleaning, we will place a temporary filling.
Filling - The inside of your tooth will be filled with a material called gutta-percha, which resembles rubber and the access hole will be sealed. Depending on where the tooth is in the mouth, you may require a dental crown to protect it from damage.
After your root canal, you may experience some minor discomfort or swelling as a result of inflammation. This can be relieved by keeping your head elevated and taking anti-inflammatory pain medication.
The procedure itself is not painful, but once the anesthetic wears off, you may feel the residual tenderness and tooth sensitivity when you eat. Try eating on the other side of your mouth and eat softer foods.
Just make sure you don’t eat or drink any hot foods or liquids until the anesthetic has worn off. Keep your teeth clean by brushing and flossing. Avoid smoking which can prolong your healing and can increase your risk of needing another root canal.
The root canal treatment is typically not a painful experience. Your dentist will most likely provide you with a local anesthetic to ensure a comfortable, pain-free procedure. You may experience some mild discomfort after your treatment, but it should subside within a couple of days.
Most patients can expect their root canal treatment to take between 30 and 60 minutes. For those receiving treatment on a larger tooth with multiple roots, it can take as long as 90 minutes.
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