Despite the common belief that root canals are painful, in truth they cause very little pain or discomfort. Root canal procedures are not the cause of pain, but the solution for relieving tooth pain.
Inside of each tooth is the pulp and the nerve. The nerve is left over from the tissue that originally formed the tooth. When the tooth has been in the mouth a long time, the functioning of the nerve is no longer necessary. The presence or absence of the nerve will not affect the daily functioning of a tooth.
When a tooth is cracked or has a deep cavity, bacteria can get into the pulp. The bacteria damages the pulp and if untreated can cause an infection or an abscess. An abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms the end of the roots of the tooth. A root canal is needed to clean out the areas of infection.
Some of the signs that the pulp have become infected may include:
- Pain & swelling in the nearby gums
- Prolonged sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweets
- Severe tooth pain when biting or chewing
- A bad taste in the mouth
- Discoloration, or darkening, of the tooth
What happens during a root canal?
First the entire area around the tooth is numbed so that you are as comfortable as possible. The tooth is then isolated and sterilized to protect it from the bacteria in the mouth. The damaged or infected material is removed from the tooth, and then we thoroughly clean the nerves and the sides of the root canals. The area is disinfected, and the canals are filled with a sealing material. The tooth is then built back up with tooth-colored filling material, and if necessary, reinforced with a carbon fiber post. If the tooth was too severely damaged, it may be necessary to place a crown over the tooth.
How long does it take to perform a root canal?
Treatment typically involves from one to three visits to the office.