For patients that have dental pulp inflammation, trauma or infection, a root canal treatment may be the best option. These sorts of issues are caused by a variety of different things, which include repeated dental procedures on the same tooth, extensive decay, or injury to the pulp of the tooth. This can happen even if no cracks or chips can be seen in the enamel. If inflammation or infection of the pulp of the tooth isn’t treated, it can lead to a painful abscess and more oral health issues.

With a root canal, you are able to receive treatment, avoid an extraction, and keep your tooth. With that said, root canal treatments aren’t permanent. You will need to take care of the tooth after the treatment to ensure the issue doesn’t return.

Don’t ignore oral health issues that lead to the need for root canal treatment. The more you wait, the higher the risk of the problem developing and leading to the need for more severe treatment. If left untreated for long enough, you may even face a tooth removal! Set an appointment if you are experiencing inflammation and pain to resolve the problem quickly.

What are root canals?

Your tooth has both hard and soft parts. The enamel is the outmost layer, and it is the first hard layer. Under this is the second hard layer—the dentin. This gives your tooth its structure. Finally, there is the third hard layer, the cementum, which sits below the gums and covers the roots of the tooth.

Inside of your tooth is soft tissue that is known as the pulp. There are blood vessels and nerves located here. The pulp stretches from the center of the tooth to the roots and all the way down to the jawbone. Each tooth may have between 1-4 roots. Molars may have more.

What is the root canal procedure?

Root canal treatment generally takes multiple visits. Often, it is two or three sessions to complete the procedure. Below are the steps of the root canal procedure process:

1. Your dentist will perform a thorough exam, which includes x-rays of your teeth. This will help them to better see the depth of your roots. The tooth is then numbed to provide additional comfort. An elastic sheet of protective materials called a “dental dam” is used to keep your mouth dry. This shields your teeth from the bacteria in your saliva.

2. After this, your endodontist or dentist will use a drill to make an opening in the crown of the tooth. This will allow them to get to the pulp chamber (the core of the tooth). At this point, decay is eliminated. The tooth is then flushed out, cleaned, and dried.

3. After this, the pulp is removed. The tooth is hollow at this point. The root canals are disinfected, shaped, and cleaned.

4. Medicine can then be applied in the root canals and pulp chamber to reduce chances of infection.

5. The roots are filled with a sealer that supports the canals. In order to stop any future infection, a temporary filling is placed. Your dentist may prescribe you antibiotics if the infection has spread down to the roots.

6. Finally, your dentist will remove the temporary filling and place a permanent restoration (likely an artificial dental crown). This restores the function of the tooth, strengthens it, and improves its appearance. If a crown does not have enough support within the tooth, a post may be used to provide additional support.

The reason for a root canal treatment is to ensure your tooth is safe from future bacterial infections and lower the chances of it breaking in the future.

Make sure you follow your dentist’s aftercare instructions and keep all of your upcoming appointments.

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Why a root canal?

A root canal may be a good repair option if your teeth have cavities, severe decay, or cracks. This is especially so if there is inflammation, infections, and/or pain. Once you visit your dentist, they will perform an oral exam to see if you are a good candidate for root canal treatment.

Some things you can look for to see if you have a tooth infection are pain when chewing, an adverse reaction to temperature or pressure, swollen lymph nodes, darkening or tenderness of the gums, cracks or chips in the tooth, abscesses, fever, and/or a foul taste in your mouth.

What can I do to ease my pain before the root canal treatment?

In order to reduce pain before your treatment, take over-the-counter pain killers such as Ibuprofen or Acetaminophen. If you would like more information on which is better for you, check with your primary doctor. You should be able to rotate the two every three to four hours.

Do root canals hurt?

While over time advances in dentistry have made root canals less painful, they are still uncomfortable. With that said, a root canal treatment may be less painful than you would imagine. To decrease discomfort, a numbing agent is used. After the procedure, over-the-counter meds can be used to ease any pain

Frequently Asked Questions about Root Canal Indianapolis, Indiana [IN]

How durable are root canal treatments?

Root canal treatment can last years if you continue to practice good oral hygiene after the treatment. Make sure you continue to brush, floss, and rinse. Also, schedule appointments for checkups and cleanings every six months. This will help to avoid decay and gum disease.

Are root canals better than teeth extractions?

It is preferential to keep your teeth—even if they are damaged. Extraction is always a last resort. Your dentist wants you to keep as much of your natural tooth as possible, and a root canal helps to save your tooth, so you don’t have to have it removed. While implants are possible and they can mimic a tooth, they will never look and feel the same as a natural tooth. Implants, bridges, and dentures are also expensive. It’s better to undergo a root canal procedure to save your natural tooth.

How can I avoid having a root canal treatment?

The best way to avoid a root canal is to take proper care of your teeth. This means visiting your dentist at least twice a year for cleanings and checkups, brushing, flossing, and rinsing out your mouth. You’ll also want to avoid foods with a high amount of acid and/or sugar. If you are experiencing any pain or discomfort, don’t put it off. Schedule an appointment with your dentist so they can check it out.