Your Top Root Canal Faqs Answered!

A root canal is one of the most common procedures performed at any endodontist’s office around the country. As these dental specialists focus on maintaining the interior health of the tooth, a root canal is often necessary to save the tooth and help patients avoid a complete extraction and replacement.

If your dentist has informed you, you might need a root canal and likely have several questions. If you are like many of us, you don’t think of these questions until after you leave the office. But not to worry, as we are here to help address these questions and put your mind at ease. So here are the root canal FAQs we hear the most at the office.

Q: So, What Exactly Is a Root Canal?

The term is tossed around a great deal, but you might need to learn the procedure. A root canal is when the organic material found within a tooth, known as the “pulp,” is removed. This is typically done because the tooth sustained trauma, which killed off some nerve endings and pulp. When this material dies, it will rot, cause pain, and eventually deteriorate and eat away at the tooth (and even spread to the surrounding structures).

A root canal is performed to save the existing tooth and protect neighboring teeth.

Q: When Is A Root Canal Necessary?

Root canal treatment is needed when the pulp, or the soft tissue that lives inside the root canal of a tooth, becomes infected and cannot be restored to become healthy again. The symptoms of an infected root canal can vary from each person.

If you are experiencing the below symptoms, you may need root canal therapy: constant toothache, lingering sensitivity, tooth discoloration, toothache in the bone, and toothache when Chewing. 

In other words, a root canal is when a cavity is left untreated. Over time, a cavity will continue burrowing further into the tooth. Ideally, a cavity is treated while still a shallow crater in the tooth. However, if the cavity is not addressed, it will eventually make its way to the tooth’s interior. This may then cause the bacteria to eat away at the pulp and other nerve endings of the tooth, killing it off (not to mention the number of unhealthy bacteria from saliva). The food you eat will compact into the opening of the tooth.

Other times, a tooth could be damaged with a crack or chip that exposes the interior of the tooth. Sometimes these can be addressed with procedures other than a root canal, although it does depend on the tooth itself.

Q: What Happens During The Root Canal?

The root canal is a relatively straightforward procedure. A local anesthetic will be applied to numb the gums and surrounding tissue around the tooth in question. A small opening will then be drilled into the tooth, not unlike that of a cavity. Once the endodontist has access to the tooth’s interior, the pulp will be removed. 

From there, the interior will be cleaned out and then filled. Depending on the tooth, a whitening agent might be injected to brighten the tooth’s appearance (although this typically is reserved for teeth that are visible when you talk and smile). 

A temporary filling might be placed onto the tooth. However, at Southern Endodontic Specialists, we restore most teeth we treat, so temporization doesn’t occur much. 

Q: But Does A Root Canal Hurt?

This is another one of the most common questions we receive. People generally want to know what kind of pain threshold they should expect for a procedure. This particular one is nearly pain-free. You likely already have some discomfort stemming from the tooth in question anyway, so this will help address that issue.

For starters, the only discomfort you’ll feel is the injection of a local anesthetic that numbs the surrounding tissue. Because the nerve endings and other organic material within the tooth are removed, your tooth will be pain-free once everything wears off.

Now, there are times when the root canal might be performed through the root itself. In this case, a small opening in the gums may be necessary. These are rare conditions, although should a cut be made in the gums, there might be a small level of discomfort for a few days as the cut heals (although it is nowhere near the feeling of tooth extraction).

Q: Is There Pain Following a Root Canal?

There might be slight discomfort in some instances, but you will generally feel as good as new with little to no pain once everything is said and done.

Schedule Your Endodontist Visit Today

If your dentist has informed you of the necessity of a root canal procedure, or if you believe you might need one, you need to schedule a consultation with an endodontist as soon as possible. You don’t want to put the procedure off as it might lead to additional damage and even the loss of the tooth in question. Here at Southern Endodontist Specialists, we are happy to answer all your questions beforehand and then, from there, perform the root canal and any other internal dental procedure that might be required. Your dental health is our top priority, so whether you’re ready to schedule the procedure, are looking for a second opinion, or have a few questions you’d like answered first, now is the perfect time to give our team here at Southern Endodontic Specialists a call.