Patients suffering from dental pulp inflammation, infection or trauma may be candidates for a root canal. Root canals are often performed by endodontists. Endodontics is a branch of dentistry that deals with the soft tissue inside the tooth (the pulp). 

Root canal therapy refers to treating a dental infection without having to eliminate the natural tooth. Only the pulp is removed. A root canal does not save your live tooth, but it allows you to keep it. 

What is a root canal? 

It is helpful to know how a tooth is built, to fully understand the root canal treatment. Every tooth consists of three hard parts and one soft part. The enamel is the visible hard outer layer. The dentin is the next hard layer that gives the tooth its structure. The third layer is the cementum. It can be found below the gums as it covers the roots of a tooth. 

The soft part of the tooth is found inside and is called the pulp. It is made up of nerves and blood vessels. It stretches from the center of the tooth, through the roots to the jawbone. Each tooth has between one and four roots.

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What happens during a root canal procedure? 

Root canal therapy takes place over 2-3 dental visits. It reduces your tooth’s changes of breaking and keeps it safe from harmful bacteria. 

The procedure can be divided into several steps: 

  1. Root canal procedure starts with a dental exam. Your doctor will take X-rays of teeth to measure how deep the roots are. Next, the affected area of your mouth is numbed so you will not feel any pain. To keep your mouth dry, a dental dam (that is a stretchable protective sheet) is placed over it. Your teeth are protected from bacteria that can be found in your saliva. 
  2. Once you are ready, your dentist (or endodontist) will try to get to the core of your tooth, or the pulp chamber. They will drill a hole, or make an opening, in the tooth’s crown. Decay will be removed, and the tooth flushed out and dried.
  3. At this stage, the doctor has removed the pulp, leaving your tooth hollow. Every single root canal is disinfected, shaped, and cleaned. 
  4. To help treat the infection, medicine may be placed in the root canals or the pulp chamber. 
  5. Next, a sealer is poured into the roots to help support the canals. A temporary filling is placed over the tooth to keep infection at bay. If, however, the infection was widespread, your doctor may prescribe a course of antibiotics. 
  6. After a while, or once your permanent restoration is ready to be used, the temporary filling is removed. Your dentist will then place a crown (or another artificial restoration) to strengthen your tooth and improve its appearance and function. It is important to note that in some cases your tooth may not be enough to support a crown. To address that, your dentist may place a post inside your tooth. 

After the procedure it complete, make sure that you follow your doctor’s orders and attend all follow-up appointments. 

Who can get a root canal?

A root canal may be necessary in cases of severe cavities, cracks, decay, or when teeth are inflamed and painful. Your doctor will perform an oral exam to determine the cause of the problem and offer treatment options. 

Symptoms of a tooth infection are: 

  • Sensitivity to pressure and temperature
  • Severe pain when chewing or biting 
  • Tender and/or darkening gums
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Chips or cracks in teeth
  • Abscesses
  • Fever

Frequently Asked Questions about Root Canal Therapy Columbus, Indiana [IN]

How can I stop my tooth from hurting before the treatment? 

 To deal with tooth pain before the root canal treatment, you can take an OTC pain killer, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen. If the pain persists, take the medication alternatively every 3-4 hours. For example: ibuprofen, 3-4 hours later acetaminophen, 3-4 hours later ibuprofen again. 

Are root canals painful? 

Due to new medicinal developments, a root canal procedure does not hurt. Right before the start you receive a numbing agent to put you at ease. Discomfort after the procedure can be treated with OTC pain killers. 

Do root canal treatments last a long time? 

If they are properly taken care of, root canal fillings can last for years. However, they can also become fractured or decayed, while your gums can become diseased. To prevent that from happening, take good care of your oral health: get your regular check-ups and keep your cleaning appointments. 

Should I get a tooth extraction or a root canal? 

Whenever possible, keeping your own teeth is always the best option. Nothing else will ever feel and look as good in your mouth as your natural teeth. 

Root canals let you keep your teeth, while extractions do not. Although extractions cost less, they affect the appearance, functionality, and overall health of your smile. Removed teeth need to be replaced with a restoration that is usually more expensive and time-consuming, like a bridge, denture, or an implant. Therefore, we recommend that the first treatment option be a root canal therapy. 

Can I avoid getting a root canal?

Yes. To avoid a root canal treatment, take good care of your oral health. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, floss and limit sugary foods and drinks. Visit your dentist regularly and have your teeth professionally cleaned at least once every 6 months. Whenever you experience pain or other worrisome symptoms, call you dentist right away. The sooner the problem is diagnosed, the better your chances of saving your teeth. 

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