If you have a toothache, you may have an infected tooth that requires treatment with a root canal. At Whitestone Family Dentistry, Dr. Chris Mun is here to help. With his years of experience in endodontic treatment, you’ll be in good hands. Dr. Mun can help you restore your tooth, eliminate pain and discomfort, and avoid future complications. Contact us now for an appointment.
Root canal therapy or a “root canal” for short is a treatment used to treat infected teeth and prevent them from dying and falling out of your mouth. Tooth infections usually happen due to uncontrolled decay that eats through the outer layers of your tooth, or serious dental trauma that cracks or breaks the tooth.
When this happens, the interior pulp is exposed to bacteria. This pulp is what keeps the tooth alive, and it’s full of nerves and blood vessels. When it’s attacked by bacteria, it will start to die, usually causing a lot of pain and discomfort.
A root canal is done to prevent this. In this treatment, the tooth is opened up, cleaned, and disinfected to remove the damaged pulp and kill bacteria. Then, Dr. Mun will fill it up and cover it with a filling or crown to prevent further damage.
The process of a root canal is quite simple. To start with, Dr. Mun will numb your mouth and thoroughly clean the treatment area. He may also opt to isolate the tooth with a dental dam to reduce bacteria spread.
Then, he will open the tooth up using a dental drill. Through a small opening on the tooth’s surface, Dr. Mun will remove all of the decayed and infected pulp from your tooth. Then, he will clean it and fill it up with a rubber-like material that strengthens the inside of the tooth.
Finally, a filling or temporary crown will be applied. You will likely need to come back to our office to get a custom-fitted dental crown, which will protect your tooth from further damage.
No. The process of getting a root canal is actually completely pain-free. Your mouth will be numbed, and we also offer sedation to help you feel more comfortable during your treatment at Whitestone Family Dentistry.
In fact, since a root canal can eliminate the pain of a toothache, you’ll likely feel a lot better after your procedure at our office. Though your tooth may feel a bit sore and tender for a few days after your treatment, this will go away quickly as you heal.
This depends on your own unique situation. Some patients will be able to keep a treated tooth for the rest of their lives, while some may need to have the tooth replaced after 10-20 years.
To maximize the longevity of a root canal, proper at-home oral hygiene and preventive care from a dentist are essential, so make sure that you’re seeing Dr. Mun every six months for a checkup, and continue brushing and flossing properly at home.
Root canal aftercare is rather straightforward. Because we administer local anesthesia to your mouth before drilling into your tooth, your mouth will be numb for several hours after the procedure. You mustn’t eat any food or consume hot liquids until the anesthetic has fully worn off. This is to prevent accidental injury such as biting or burning the inside of your mouth.
Once your mouth is no longer numb, you can eat soft foods, but you should avoid hard or sticky foods and hot temperatures for the first 24 hours. You may experience some mild pain or tenderness in the next 2-3 days which can be relieved with anti-inflammatory pain medication, like ibuprofen, and a cold compress.
You will need to avoid the site of the root canal when eating and cleaning your teeth. Chew on the other side of your mouth and don’t floss around the tooth. You can brush your teeth like normal and floss the surrounding teeth.
Brush your teeth gently and don’t be too rough with your teeth. For the first few days, it is best to stick to soft foods like yogurt, mashed potatoes, and pasta but you can return to a normal diet as you start to feel better.
The best way to avoid the need for future root canals is to practice proper oral hygiene and engage in early detection and prevention. This means attending dental cleanings and checkups every 6 months to catch signs of decay early on and treat cavities promptly.
Fluoride treatments offer additional protection for your teeth and your dentist can inform you if you need to watch out for signs of decay or if you need to brush more thoroughly. You should brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and a soft-bristle toothbrush. Don’t forget to floss and brush your tongue.
If you grind your teeth at night, you should wear a nightguard because excessive grinding can lead to broken teeth that can damage your tooth’s pulp. Avoid using your teeth as tools and don’t chew on ice, your nails, or excessively hard or chewy foods. Drink lots of water and limit your intake of sugar, carbohydrates, and acidic foods and drinks.
Often the only alternative to a root canal is an extraction. However, in limited circumstances, you may be eligible for alternative treatments such as pulp capping or a pulpotomy. A pulpotomy is usually performed on deciduous teeth and involves removing only the portion of the dental pulp that is in the tooth’s crown. The tooth’s root remains intact.
Pulp capping is when an exposed pulp is covered when removing the decay. A special filling is applied to the pulp to remove bacteria. However, in the vast majority of cases, the only alternative to a root canal is to have the tooth extracted. The purpose of a root canal is to save a damaged tooth so that the patient doesn’t lose it.
Extraction is not recommended except as a last resort. Eventually, if the decay is left untreated and the infection spreads, the tooth may no longer be salvageable and need to be extracted. As long as a root canal is still on the table as an option for pulp treatment, you should take it.
Losing a tooth will result in bone loss, facial sagging, changes in your facial structure, and shifting teeth. If the reason for avoiding a root canal is financial, you should consider that you will need to have your extracted tooth replaced to mitigate these issues of shifting teeth and facial muscle changes.