Pain, of course, can be a serious problem. Nevertheless, it is often an important warning. Pain is sometimes the body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. When you have a toothache, that pain may be sending the message that there is an infected tooth. If so, then root canal therapy in Richardson may be necessary. This common dental procedure is often the only alternative to have the tooth extracted.
Regardless of what you may have heard about a root canal, the procedure is not scary and it is not painful. In fact, root canal is performed to eliminate the pain of an infected tooth. And thanks of modern anesthesia, you will be able to rest comfortably while the dentist takes of your tooth.
After administering the local anesthetic, the dentist creates a small access hole, usually in the biting surface of the infected tooth. Special dental files are inserted through the hole in order to remove the infected contents of your tooth’s pulp chamber and root canals. Don’t worry—a tooth can function well without the living tissue that inhabits the chamber.
The area is disinfected and filled with an inert substance called gutta-percha, which prevents recontamination and helps to support the remaining tooth structure. Finally, the tooth is sealed and prepared to have an eventual porcelain crown that will protect the tooth and restore form and function.
Root canal therapy, also called endodontic treatment, is needed when the soft tissue inside your tooth’s pulp chamber and root canals becomes infected. Infection may be the result of:
Deep tooth decay
A penetrating crack or break in the tooth
An injury to the tooth that damages the pulp
Repeated dental procedures on the tooth
If left untreated, the infection and ensuing inflammation may become extremely painful. An abscess may also develop, and the infection might spread.
Other symptoms of tooth infection include:
A tooth that is sensitive to hot and cold temperatures as well as the pressure of normal biting or chewing
Facial swelling near the tooth in question
A pimple-like sore on your gum tissue near the tooth
In order to confirm that an infection is present, we need to perform X-rays of the area in question. Once we know exactly where the infection sits, we’ll begin numbing the area in order to perform treatment. Then, we’ll create a small access hole in the top of your tooth so we can clear away infected pulp, irrigate the tooth, and shape the canal. Once cleaned, we’ll place filler material inside the tooth to replace the pulp and seal the tooth with a custom-made dental crown. After completion, your tooth will be fully restored!
Contrary to popular belief, root canal therapy itself does not cause pain. This is because the treatment area is always numbed prior to treatment. Any discomfort that does occur is due to the infection itself or from soreness after surgery, which is typical for treatments like these. Furthermore, practicing good aftercare is essential to reducing discomfort and ensuring a speedy recovery.
You may be given an antibiotic to ensure the infection is eliminated. Be sure to take this medicine on schedule.
Some soreness is normal after root canal. However, if you are still experiencing severe pain, call our office immediately. Otherwise, ibuprofen or acetaminophen should be effective.
For a day after your root canal, avoid spitting and don’t use a straw. Your diet should consist of soft foods such as yogurt, scramble eggs, applesauce, mashed potatoes, cottage cheese and ice cream for the first couple of days. Avoid hard or crunchy foods, as well as hot beverages.
At some point, the pain of an infection might go away on its own. You might think the problem is solved at that point, but in reality, the infection is still there and could continue to spread throughout the mouth. (In fact, the loss of pain usually means the nerves inside the tooth have been completely destroyed, meaning the infection is more advanced than ever.) Furthermore, sometimes an infected tooth never hurts in the first place; that doesn’t change the threat it poses to your overall health. While root canal therapy is partially intended to help relieve the pain of infection, its main purpose is to save the tooth and prevent bacteria from doing further harm to the rest of your mouth.
Are you still worried about the root canal procedure? Dr. Nathan Coughlin and Dr. Christine Coughlin want you to feel confident about your care, which is why they’ll encourage you to ask any questions that are on your mind before agreeing to the treatment. If you’re uncertain about what to expect or what you should do to prepare, read on to learn the answers to some of the common questions that we’ve received over the years.
Typically, root canal treatment will take about one to two hours. The procedure can usually be completed in one visit. That said, your needs might be different depending on the complexity of your case. If you have more than one tooth that needs to be treated, for example, you can naturally expect the procedure to take longer. In certain situations, you might need to make a second appointment to complete root canal therapy. A follow-up is also often necessary for us to place a crown over the tooth.
Some patients who are afraid of having root canal therapy performed might consider having the tooth removed altogether instead. However, we will always recommend the option that allows you to save your natural teeth. If a tooth is removed, the remaining teeth will start to drift into the empty space, causing alignment problems that could put you at greater risk for tooth decay, gum disease, and other oral health issues. It’s also much more difficult to enjoy a healthy, nutritious diet when you don’t have a complete set of teeth to chew with. You can fill in the empty space with a dental implant or another kind of tooth replacement, but in the long run, preserving the tooth is the healthier, more cost-effective option.
Most dental plans will provide some coverage for root canal therapy. The exact percentage they’ll pay for varies depending on the company and the policy, but generally speaking you can expect them to cover about 50%; you’ll need to pay the rest out of pocket. We’re here to guide you through the insurance process and explain anything you don’t understand; we’ll also file the necessary claims for you in order to ensure that you receive your benefits.