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What is a Root Canal?

Are you dealing with intense tooth pain or sensitivity? Does chewing or biting down hurt? You might need a root canal treatment. While the idea of this procedure can be scary, knowing what to expect can help calm your nerves. 

In this article, we’ll go through each step of a root canal procedure and explain what a root canal is, making it easier to understand its significance for your smile.

What is a Root Canal?

A root canal is a dental procedure designed to save a damaged tooth. It becomes necessary when the inner part of your tooth, containing nerves and blood vessels, becomes infected or injured due to trauma, decay, or other issues, often causing significant pain. 

During the treatment, your dentist removes the infected tissue, cleans the area, fills it, and seals it to prevent further infection. Contrary to its reputation, the procedure is straightforward and aimed at preserving your dental health and ensuring a pain-free smile.

When Do You Need a Root Canal?

A root canal may be necessary if the pulp inside your tooth becomes infected. Within each tooth, there’s a chamber called the root canal that houses nerves and soft tissues known as pulp. When this pulp becomes infected, it can lead to severe pain. 

Left untreated, the infection can weaken the tooth and potentially cause it to loosen, harming the surrounding bone. Timely removal of the infection can preserve both the tooth and the bone structure.

Reasons for Considering a Root Canal

There are several reasons why you might need a root canal. One common cause is deep tooth decay, which can reach the inner part of the tooth, causing pain and swelling. Trauma from an injury, even if there are no visible signs, can also lead to internal damage requiring treatment. 

Additionally, extensive dental work like large fillings can weaken the tooth, making it more susceptible to infection. It’s worth noting that not all cases are painful, and sometimes problems are only detected during dental check-ups. Regular visits to the dentist can detect issues early and prevent them from getting worse.

The Root Canal Procedure: What to Expect

A root canal treatment usually happens at the dentist’s clinic. When you arrive, a technician helps you settle in a chair and puts a bib on you to protect your clothes from stains. Here are the steps to expect when undergoing a root canal treatment:

Step 1: Numbing

First, the dentist applies a numbing gel to your gum near the problem tooth. Then, a local anesthetic is injected into your gums. You might feel a quick pinch or a burn, but it fades fast. You’ll stay awake, but the anesthetic keeps you pain-free.

Step 2: Pulp Removal

Once your tooth is numb, the dentist makes a tiny opening at the top. Then, using small tools called files, they carefully remove the infected pulp. They make sure to clean out all the canals in your tooth to get rid of any bad stuff.

Step 3: Antibiotic Treatment

After removing the pulp, the dentist might apply a topical antibiotic to the area to clear up any infection and prevent it from coming back. Then, they fill and seal the tooth with a special paste and a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. They might also prescribe oral antibiotics for extra protection.

Step 4: Temporary Seal

To finish, the dentist fills the small opening at the top of the tooth with a soft, temporary material. This keeps the saliva out and protects the canals from harm.

3 Root Canal Myths

These are three common myths about root canal treatments

Myth #1: Root Canal Treatments are Extremely Painful

It used to be thought that root canals were really painful, but not anymore! Nowadays, with new technology and better numbing methods, root canals are much more bearable. After the procedure, most people only feel a bit sore.

Myth #2: Pulling Teeth Beats Root Canals

Some used to think it’s better to just pull a tooth instead of doing a root canal, but actually, keeping your natural tooth is usually the better choice. When you pull a tooth, it can mess up how your other teeth fit together and cause more dental issues later on.

Myth #3: Root Canals Require Multiple Lengthy Appointments

Some used to think root canals took forever and needed lots of appointments. But guess what? Most of the time, you only need 1-2 visits! Yep, it’s quicker than you’d imagine. By busting these myths, we help people make smarter choices about their teeth.

What to Expect and How to Care for Your Tooth

After your root canal, your tooth and gums might feel sore once the numbing wears off, and your gums might swell. Most dentists recommend over-the-counter pain relievers like acetaminophen (Tylenol) or ibuprofen (Advil) to manage any discomfort. If the tooth pain gets severe or lasts more than a few days, be sure to call your dentist.

You can usually go back to your regular routine the day after the procedure, but avoid chewing with the treated tooth until it’s fully filled or covered with a crown.

Within a few days, you’ll have a follow-up appointment with your dentist. They’ll take X-rays to ensure the infection is gone and replace the temporary filling with a permanent one. If you prefer, they may also fit a permanent crown onto the tooth for a natural look. It might take some time to get used to how the tooth feels after the root canal, but this is normal and nothing to worry about.

How Painful is a Root Canal Procedure?  

During the procedure, a local anesthetic is used, so it’s usually not painful. Some people might feel a slight pressure, but no real pain. Afterward, any discomfort is usually managed with over-the-counter pain medications, not strong painkillers. The idea of agonizing pain during a root canal is outdated; modern procedures are designed to relieve pain, not cause it. In fact, most of the pain comes before the treatment, not after.

Your Trusted Partner in Dental Care in Diamond Bar, CA

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What is a Root Canal? 3

At Diamond Bar Dental Studio in Diamond Bar, CA, we are your trusted partner in dental care, offering a range of services to meet your needs. Whether you’re seeking treatment for a root canal or are interested in preventative care, our team is committed to providing compassionate and comprehensive dental services. 

Contact us today at (909) 455-9979 to schedule an appointment or conveniently book online. Let us help you achieve optimal oral health and a confident smile. If you have any questions about what a root canal is or any other dental concerns, don’t hesitate to reach out.