Root Canal Therapy Charlotte NC
Root canals are performed to stop the spread of bacteria inside the tooth. This procedure is completed to save a tooth and save a patient from further pain and infection. There are many myths and stigmas associated with having a root canal. Most patients assume that a root canal is an unpleasant dental visit. However, pain and discomfort caused by a tooth infection are usually what necessitate a root canal! Root canals are often a procedure done to actually relieve pain. At Langley Dental Care, we are happy to discuss all steps of root canal treatment with you, and answer any questions you may have prior to having treatment done in our office. Our team works hard to keep you comfortable for any type of treatment you need, but especially a root canal. With caring treatment from us, you will enjoy the benefits and function of the root canal for many, many years.
Why Do I Need Root Canal Therapy?
There are many different reasons a patient may need a root canal, including a large cavity that has spread to the nerve, cracked tooth, trauma to the tooth, or necrosis of the tooth over time. All these things cause the nerve inside the tooth to be unhealthy and when the nerve of a tooth is not healthy, a root canal needs to be performed. Root canals can also prolong the life of a tooth that has had a root fracture, a case in which the alternative would be extraction. In most cases, a filling or crown alone is not sufficient to repair the tooth to its optimal health, thus requiring a root canal. There are time limitations to a root canal. There are consequences to letting the tooth continue to destruct over time. Teeth that do not have enough remaining healthy tooth structure to support a crown after root canal therapy may need to be extracted. For this reason, we recommend seeking root canal treatment as soon as it is recommended to you by your dentist before it’s too late.
Root canal therapy removes infected tooth pulp that causes pain and pressure. The infection happens when a tooth breaks, or decay lets bacteria deep into the tooth. The only alternative to root canal therapy in many cases is extraction. So, if you want to keep your natural teeth, follow through with root canal therapy if recommended by your dentist.
Will Root Canal Therapy Hurt?
Prior to initiating root canal therapy, you will be numbed in a similar way as you would for a filling or crown. After ensuring that you are profoundly numb in the area of the root canal, an isolation shield called a rubber dam will be placed around the tooth. This reduces the potential for contamination of the tooth during treatment. The rubber dam apparatus may seem bulky and restricting, however it is not painful.
During treatment, you may feel some pressure and sensation, however pain during treatment is uncommon and can be alleviated with added anesthetic. Discomfort during root canal therapy is usually associated with a large tooth infection, for which your doctor may have already prescribed an antibiotic to reduce the chance of pain during a root canal.
Most patients can return to their normal routine after root canal therapy. Again, patients with large infections prior to treatment may have a longer recovery time and might want to take it easy for the rest of the day. The numb sensation may last a few hours after treatment. Before the anesthetic has completely worn off, we recommend taking Ibuprofen, which can help to prevent any inflammation you may have.
After root canal treatment, you may be asked to return to your general dentist at Langley Dental Care for a crown (cap) to permanently restore the tooth. Root canal therapy essentially removes the structure of the tooth that makes it alive, so posterior teeth may be more prone to fracture if not properly restored with a full-coverage crown.
A few days to a week after root canal therapy, your tooth should feel normal again. If you experienced swelling prior to treatment, the swelling should begin to subside in the days after treatment. Root canal therapy is about removing pain, not causing pain!
Root canal therapy does not hurt during the procedure. In fact, you will have your gums numbed before the procedure starts. You should not feel anything while the dentist works on you.
After the procedure, you can return to work the same day. Once the anesthesia wears off, you might feel minor pain that you can take ibuprofen or Tylenol to control.
Depending on which tooth you had treatment on, you may need to return after the root canal to get a crown. If you need a crown, wait until after getting it placed before returning to your typical diet.
After a few days, you should feel even better than you did before getting the root canal treatment, especially if you need the therapy due to pain. By removing the painful portion inside the tooth, the dentist got rid of the source of your dental discomfort.
How Do I Prepare for Root Canal Therapy?
Your dentist or endodontist can answer any questions you may have prior to treatment. Most endodontic procedures are performed without nitrous oxide, sedation, or other anti-anxiety methods. For patients anxious about having dental treatment done, your dentist may recommend nitrous oxide or medication, such as Valium, for treatment. In that case, it is necessary to bring someone to your appointment who can drive you home afterwards. It is also recommended to eat breakfast or lunch prior to your appointment, as you may be numb for a few hours afterwards.
To prepare for root canal therapy, talk to the dentist about any concerns to help you relax. The procedure is not a surgery that uses sedation or general anesthesia. Therefore, you should be able to drive yourself home after the procedure. Plus, there are fewer complications after root canal therapy than after surgical procedures.
What Happens During Root Canal Therapy?
Prior to root canal therapy with an endodontic specialist, a consultation is usually recommended. At this appointment, the specialist can discuss with you what to expect for treatment. Most root canals can be completed in one or two sessions, followed by a subsequent visit to have the permanent filling or crown placed by your dentist. The location of the tooth in the mouth, the number of roots and canals associated with the tooth, and the complexity of the canals can all determine length of the appointment and the number of appointments required for completion. Most front teeth have 1 root with 1-2 canals. Back teeth, including premolars and molars, have anywhere from 1-4 roots with any number of canals that may be either straight or curved.
Prior to your root canal appointment, either your dentist or the endodontist will likely have taken an x-ray of the tooth, as well as a cone-beam CT scan. The cone-beam CT is a 3D image that allows the specialist to visualize the entire tooth, including the positions of the multiple roots and canals. Dental x-rays are 2D images and cannot provide as much information about the tooth as a 3D image.
After being anesthetized and having the tooth appropriately isolated with the rubber dam, the dentist or endodontist will remove decay with a drill, similar to what is done during a filling. Root canals require drilling further into the tooth, to expose the nerve chamber. Again, you should not feel discomfort during this process, as you will be profoundly numb. The infected or necrotic nerve tissue is then removed, and the root canals are disinfected. Once the canal or canals are cleaned and shaped, a medicine called calcium hydroxide is applied in the canals. Then, a flexible material called gutta percha is inserted into the canals to fill the space previously occupied by the nerve, and sealed. The access opening in the tooth created during the root canal process will then be covered by either a permanent filling, or a temporary filling material that will last until a permanent filling or crown is placed.
Most patients need one to two sessions for root canal therapy and another visit for getting a crown. The location of the tooth and the complexity of the root canals will determine how many visits you need.
During root canal therapy, the dentist will take x-rays and numb the area. Next, you will have the tooth drilled, allowing the dentist to remove the infected parts inside the root canals and clean the area. They will then seal the interior of the tooth to prevent bacteria from causing future infections. You will then get a filling.
Later, you should get a crown if you had a molar treated. Molars often need crowns because these teeth have more pressure on them from biting. Dental crowns provide the tooth with lasting protection against this extra stress.
Benefits of Root Canal TherapyRoot canal therapy provides many benefits to patients, including:
- Removing decayed and infected nerve tissue
- Prolonging the life of a tooth
- Prevents the immediate need for an extraction
- Saves a tooth that has experienced trauma
- Allows you to keep your natural tooth
- Removes active infection, which may be life threatening
- A non-surgical way to fix deep decay and dental pain
- Save a natural tooth
- Prevents the need for a dental implant
- Heals within a few days
- No pain during the procedure and minor discomfort during the healing