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Treat tooth & root canal infection
And Prevent dental abscess

When a root canal is infected, treatment is necessary in order to save the natural tooth. Root canals can become infected when the tooth is cracked due to injury or when tooth decay is left unattended to progress the disease into the soft inner tissue (the pulp) inside the tooth’s root canal. Dental procedures to treat this condition involve the removal and cleaning out of the nerve and pulp to prevent further tooth infection and abscess.

At our dentist office, root canal treatment is one of our specialties. With highly trained and experienced dental specialists, state-of-the-art equipment and the latest technologies, our process is not much more complicated than a standard filling and is usually completed during a single appointment with little to no pain.     

Root canal infection shown on X-ray

Root Canal Symptoms

We believe that prevention is better than a cure. That’s why we always encourage regular teeth cleaning and dental checkups so that we can catch any issues before they become serious enough to require a root canal procedure. However, we also know that life sometimes happens, and when it does, we are here to provide you with the best care.

If you are experiencing tooth pain or discomfort, it is important that you visit your dentist as soon as possible. The main symptoms of an infected or abscessed root canal include toothache, extreme and lingering sensitivity to hot or cold liquids or foods, spontaneous tooth pain when the tooth isn’t being used, or a toothache that progresses into a headache.

If the condition has already progressed into a tooth abscess and the nerves are dead, pain may only occur when chewing or placing pressure on the tooth. There may also be some swelling or bleeding and if swelling is very severe, this may be a sign that you need to see your emergency dentist or even go to the emergency room if an emergency dentist is unavailable. 

Keep in mind that many other dental conditions can cause these and similar symptoms, so it is important to have a dental specialist evaluate your condition through X-rays and/or a pulp vitality test to see if you require root canal treatment.

Other circumstances that may lead one to require root canal treatment can include trauma to the tooth causing the nerve to become severed, a tooth fracture that extends deep into the tooth and reaches the pulp, root resorption where the tooth structure dissolves away as a reaction to stress and trauma, or repeated dental procedures being performed on a single tooth that can place significant stress on the tooth.

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Root Canal Procedure

The procedure for treating a root canal usually lasts around 90 minutes. Occasionally, depending on the condition of the tooth being treated, two separate sessions may be required. Each session will begin with the application of a local anesthetic to numb the tooth then a sheet of rubber will be placed over the tooth to keep it dry and free of saliva.

Once your tooth has numbed sufficiently, your dentist will drill a hole into the tooth to provide access into the root canal. Through the hole, any infected pulp, decayed nerve tissue, and other bacteria and debris are removed. Regularly during this removal process, the root canals will be washed out with sodium hypochlorite or water, then again at the end, a final wash will be performed to ensure there is no debris left.

Once thoroughly cleaned, the tooth is usually immediately sealed up using a sealer paste and a rubber compound inside the tooth and a permanent filling to cover up the hole.

Occasionally, it is necessary to wait for a second appointment before placing the permanent seal so that you may receive medication inside the tooth for continued cleaning purposes. In such a case, a temporary filling will be placed in order to ensure that no contaminants are able to access the inside of the tooth in the interim.

In the majority of cases, a dental crown will need to be placed over the tooth to protect it from future damage. You will normally need to make a subsequent visit to your dentist office for this final step to ensure the tooth has healed well and is pain free after the root canal procedure. Sometimes, the dental crown may be supplemented with a post, or in some cases a post alone may be placed down one of the canals as an anchor in which case the tooth will be built up with a permanent filling.  

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Root Canal Recovery

Contrary to popular belief, root canals are not much more painful than standard fillings, and recovery time from a root canal is fairly short. While there may be some sensitivity for the first few days following the treatment, most patients do not report any significant pain and are able to return to normal activities right away, or on the following day.

As the anesthesia begins to wear off, patients report some soreness of the gums that surround the tooth due to the sheet of rubber that was in place throughout the procedure, and there may be some pain when chewing on the tooth that was treated.

Any pain or discomfort that does occur can usually be controlled with over the counter pain medications such as Advil or Aleve, and since most patients are in significant pain before the treatment, you are likely to notice more relief than any additional pain. Extreme pain that persists for several days is not normal, and you should see your treating dentist immediately if you have these symptoms.

The success rate of root canal procedures exceeds 95%, and with proper care, is likely to last for a lifetime. We consider permanent fillings or dental crowns to be an important final step after root canal treatment for this reason, as this step protects the hollowed tooth from any future damage. Between the root canal procedure and your dental crowns appointment, we recommend chewing on the opposite side of the mouth in order to give the bone and tissues around the tooth time to settle. This will also keep the tooth protected until the crown or filling is placed.

Ongoing observation of good hygiene habits with regular teeth cleaning and dental checkups are also an important part of post-procedural care to ensure your root canals last.

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What is a Dental Abscess?

When a tooth or root canal infection is left untreated, it can progress into an abscessed tooth. When a tooth becomes abscessed, it means there are pockets of pus that have formed as a result of the bacterial infection. The condition causes moderate to severe pain that may radiate to the ear or neck, and left untreated, can become extremely serious with life-threatening outcomes.

Root Canal Vs Extraction

The only alternative to a root canal procedure is tooth extraction. While this might sound like a simpler alternative, the fact is that a missing tooth often causes a variety of problems including functional and structural issues that affect your daily life and the health of your remaining teeth. For this reason, an extracted tooth should always be replaced with a bridge, dental implant, or a removable partial denture. All of these additional procedures are more costly while requiring more treatment time than the root canal treatment, making the latter the more obvious choice in many cases.

However, the “root canal vs extraction” issue needs to be judged on a case by case basis, and indeed, there are some situations where tooth extraction may be the wiser option. These may include cases where there is a tooth fracture that extends down the root or lack of healthy tooth structure on which to attach a crown, if the tooth is a wisdom tooth, when a large amount of the tooth has dissolved due to resorption, or if the tooth has already undergone multiple root canal procedures.

Appointment Request

To ensure the best dental care & correct time allotment for your specific need, one of our care specialist will contact you to finalize your appointment.

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