What is a root canal?
A root canal treatment is a dental procedure to relieve dental pain and preserve a tooth that is infected or decayed. During a root canal treatment, your dentist or endodontist will remove the inflamed or infected pulp, then carefully clean and disinfect the inside of the tooth, before filling and sealing the tooth to prevent new decay.
Who needs a root canal?
Your teeth consist of a hard white enamel layer on the outside, a second layer of hard tissue called dentin, and a softer living inner core that extends into the jawbone. This inner core, known as pulp, contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue that play an essential role in tooth development. Once a tooth is fully matured, it can exist without pulp as it continues to receive nourishment by surrounding tissue.
If decay reaches the inner core of your tooth, the pulp becomes infected and the tooth cannot survive. A root canal treatment is prescribed to patients to treat the infected or diseased tooth and preserve the natural tooth that would otherwise need to be extracted.
Causes that lead to infected pulp and needing root canal treatment include repeat dental procedures, cracked or chipped teeth, defective or inadequate crowns, and deep cavities. Tooth trauma may also lead to infected pulp, even if there is no visible sign of damage to the tooth such as chips or cracks.
Root canal symptoms
The only way to know with certainty that you need a root canal is by paying a visit to the dentist for a dental exam. With that in mind, there are several symptoms for which to be aware.
If you experience any of the following symptoms, it is advised that you schedule a dental appointment, as you may be in need of a root canal.
1. Persistent tooth pain
2. Tooth sensitivity to hot and cold
3. A chipped or cracked tooth
4. Swollen gums
5. A loose tooth
6. Tender or swollen lymph nodes in neck and/or jaw
7. Bad breath
How long does a root canal take?
A root canal procedure typically involves one to two dental visits. The length of the procedure is dependent on the severity of the root canal infection.
After the procedure is finished, it should only take a few days to recover from the root canal. If your pain stretches beyond a few days it could indicate a problem.
Do root canals hurt?
Although the idea of getting a root canal may seem intimidating and scary, there is no need to worry! Since patients are given anesthesia, a root canal treatment procedure is similar to a routine filling and can often be completed in one to two dental visits, depending on the condition of your natural tooth and your unique circumstances.