No one loves experiencing a toothache. There are many reasons behind your severe toothache, and one of the reasons behind such an experience might be a cavity or infection in the root. Root canal treats both the inner part of the tooth between the pulp and the root of the tooth, and a procedure used to remove infected tissues to relieve the pain of a root canal infection. Your dentist might recommend this procedure if it is the last resort to saving you from the unbearable toothache. We at Northridge Emergency Dentist guarantee an excellent root canal treatment to save you from pain for those living in Northridge, CA.

Definition of Root Canal Therapy

Root canal therapy is a dental treatment used in repairing and saving a tooth that has severely decayed or infected. It is also referred to as an endodontic and involves removing the nerve and pulp from inside part of the tooth. The place is then cleaned and sealed. The nerve is removed as a standard procedure to reduce the pain experienced after an infection. The nerves of the tooth do not have any specific purpose other than sensing cold, heat, and other stimuli. Therefore, removing them would not be a significant issue if it will help in dental treatment. 

Reasons Why the Tooth Pulp has to be Removed

When the tooth pulp or nerve tissues get damaged, bacteria starts to multiply in the pulp chamber. The bacteria and other decayed material can lead to an infection or abscess. An abscess is a pocket filled with pus that forms at the tip of the root of your tooth. It occurs when the infection spreads in all ways past the end of the tooth’s root. Besides abscess, the infection of the tooth’s root can cause:

  • Swelling that can spread to other areas such as the head, neck, and face
  • Bone loss at the tip of the root
  • Drainage issues that extend outward from the root. This results from the hole at the side of the mouth due to the drainage into the gums. It also happens through the cheek to the skin.

Reasons Why the Nerve of the Tooth and Pulp Get Damaged

The tooth nerve becomes more irritated, infected, and inflamed due to deep decay, extensive filings, a chip or crack in the tooth, or face trauma. Inflammation might be the main reason behind the damaged nerve and pulp. The condition is described as pulpitis, which in itself is a secondary effect of tooth decay that manifests itself as tooth decay.

Signs that You Need a Root Canal

It is hard to determine whether you need a root canal unless a dentist recommends you to get one. At the onset of the condition, you might not experience anything until the problem is more advanced and check by a trained dentist. Therefore, there are possibilities of saving your tooth from endodontics if you decide to visit a dentist early enough, and he or she manages to discover the problem soon enough. All the same, you should visit a dentist if you notice the following signs. 

  1. Persistent Pain

Pain is the visible indicator that there is something with your tooth. However, a simple pain might not be an indicator of a possible root canal problem until it becomes too severe to bear. This is common when you find it painful to undertake normal activities such as eating and drinking.

Your dentist will examine your teeth to check whether its blood vessels and nerves have become inflamed due to the infections. If the dentist concludes that it cannot be treated using antibiotics, he or she may then conclude on a root canal to reduce the pain. 

  1. Chipped or Cracked Tooth

It is easy to chip or crack your teeth if you eat hard foods or get involved in contact sports. Also, you can go through this experience if your previous dental work does not work out as expected.

When the tooth gets chipped or cracked, it exposes the nerves below the tooth’s surface, leading to an infection. The infection enters the root of the tooth and can spread to the bloodstream if left untreated. The only solution to handle an untreated infection is by undertaking a root canal to avoid further infection and ease the pain. 

  1. Excess Sensitivity to Heat or Cold

 Experiencing sensitivity to heat and cold is another common sign that you might need a root canal. It might not be a bother while taking hot coffee or tea, but it becomes an issue when you start experiencing sharp and intense pain.

You might also feel a lot of pain when you take cold foods and drinks, consume ice, and find yourself avoiding taking crunchy foods on one side of your mouth. The intense pain that you might be experiencing might be as a result of damaged nerve endings and blood vessels. For that reason, the dentist might decide on a root canal to fix the sensitivity.

  1. Swollen Gum

If you are experiencing a swollen gum, it means that there is a problem below the surface. If the issue becomes persistent and painful, your dentist will examine your tooth and check whether there is an inflammation. From that point, the dentist will decide whether getting a root canal will solve the problem. 

  1. Dark Discoloration of the Tooth

In most cases, a discolored tooth might result from exposure to food and drinks that can stain the enamel, poor hygiene, and damage under the tooth’s surface. If the reason behind the discoloration is as a result of damage to your blood vessel, your dentist might schedule a root canal appointment to deal with the issue. 

  1. Deep Decay

Once you experience a deep decay, there is no amount of brushing or flossing that can solve the issue. If one neglects a cavity for an extended period, it ends up spreading into the nerve and to the root. In most possibilities, a root canal procedure would be the best solution to the problem. 

Note, the signs that are provided above do not apply on the root canal only. There might be other underlying causes, hence the need to seek the help of a professional dentist to check whether you need to get a root canal. 

Benefits of Root Canal

There are a lot of reasons why one should consider endodontic treatment when recommended to pursue such treatment by a dentist. Generally, undertaking endodontic leaves your tooth intact in place and do not lose the bone around the tooth, unlike other dental treatment methods. Other benefits of root canal include: 

  1. The Procedure Stops Spread of Infections to Neighboring Teeth

Tooth decay and toothaches occur due to infection on the cavity of the tooth. However, without the root canal, the infection cannot cause infection.

After removing the bacteria, the tooth gets cleaned and disinfected, which, as a result, stops the decay or toothache.

  1. The Procedure has Virtually Appealing Results

Root canal therapy involves the removal of the root canal and finishing it with a dental filling or a crown. This filing resembles the tooth, providing a new and beautiful appearance. 

  1. It Prevents the Jawbone from Degeneration

One of the most remarkable advantages of a root canal is preserving the tooth, meaning that the jawbone does not get affected. When a tooth is missing, the jawbone starts to generate over time. Therefore, by undertaking a root canal therapy, you will have the opportunity of saving your tooth and your jawbone as well. 

  1. It Focuses on Saving Your Teeth

A root canal is a procedure aimed at saving your tooth rather than removing it. After the dental work is done, you will be able to resume your normal tooth functionality just like any other. 

  1. It Promotes Oral and Overall Health

There are risks of having health complications such as respiratory infections, diabetes, heart disease, and other health conditions. If you are suffering from such health conditions and end up having a severe tooth infection, it can be a serious threat to your overall well being.

Therefore, the best solution to such an issue is getting a root canal, which has much better results in controlling tooth infections compared with other dental treatment options. 

  1. The Procedure is Efficient and Cost-Effective

Tooth extraction can take longer compared with endodontics. In most of the tooth extraction methods, you need to have follow-up appointments for the bridges and implants and dentures. This increases the cost significantly, which can be a great hassle for most people. However, with a root canal, you probably need a one-time appointment and do away with your problem, which cuts down the cost. 

  1. It is Virtually Painless

Endodontics is virtually painless since it does not leave the patient with too much discomfort during the recovery process compared with other natural tooth extraction methods. Thanks to the modern techniques and effective anesthesia, the procedure is six times more likely to be painless all along with the treatment procedure.

  1. Guarantees Excellent Results

It looks great to improve the smile and laugh after a root canal procedure, thanks to the replacement of a crown during the endodontic. 

Although endodontics has a lot of benefits, there are a couple of disadvantages that come along. Some of the disadvantages include: 

  • Your devitalized tooth can also decay if you do not consider your oral health
  • Your devitalized tooth becomes more fragile and prone to chipping when exposed to too much pressure over time
  • Your tooth might start to discolor if there is a small pulp left inside the tooth during the procedure. Such a condition can be corrected by veneer or teeth whitening.

Step-by-step Endodontic Procedure

Once you have decided on endodontic, your dentist will take you through a procedural treatment. Here is a step-by-step procedure that the dentist will follow.

Step 1:  Administering of a Local Anesthesia

The dentist administers the local anesthesia through an injection to numb your infected tooth and the tissues surrounding it. A severely affected pulp becomes very painful and it might take quite some time to numb. However, the dentist cannot commence with the treatment until it gets numb.

Step 2: Placing the Rubber Dam

A rubber dam is a vinyl sheet or rubber that is placed at the affected tooth and the adjacent ones. The dentist usually punches a hole through the dam to isolate the affected tooth. The reason behind using the rubber dam is to maintain a sterile environment, especially from saliva and the other parts of your mouth. 

Step 3: Making the Access Cavity

As a way to start the tooth work, the dentist usually creates an opening to the nerve space, known as an access cavity. The process involves drilling into your tooth. For the back teeth, the dentist drills them from the top, and the front teeth are drilled from the backside.

The only experience that you get is a minor vibration of the drilling. However, if you experience any pain, it is recommended to let your dentist know based on the signal that you have agreed with your dentist. Once the dentist realizes such a problem, he or she will know which step to consider to control your discomfort. 

Step 4: Identification of Each Tooth’s Root Canal

Your dentist needs to identify every tooth canal before removing the pulp. He or she uses a small microscope through the access cavity. The use of a microscope increases the chances of identifying all the root canals, translating to a successful treatment.

Step 5: Measuring the Tooth’s Length

The goal of your dentist is to treat your entire tooth root canal and avoid going beyond. Such consideration will help in reducing the possibilities of postoperative pain. Therefore, the dentist will measure the length of each root canal and leaves a tolerance of half a millimeter. The dentist usually takes the measurements using two methods, which include taking an X-ray and through electronic measures. The length of the root canal differs in different teeth. Therefore, the dentist makes the decision based on the extent of your problem and his or her judgment. 

Step 6: Removal of the Diseased Pulp

Once the dentist identifies every root canal, he or she can proceed to remove the infected pulp. The process involves instruments with special designs. The procedure is not painful due to numbness, and the tissue in question is usually dying or dead. Soon after removing the pulp, the tooth itself cannot feel any pain since there are no nerves. 

As the dentist performs the tooth work, he or she will periodically irrigate or flush out your tooth. Flushing is done at the minimum, and its goal is to enhance the effectiveness of the cleaning process. It also helps in removing any loose debris that might be compacted by the movement of the file into a plug or a blockage.  The dentist should use a sterile or saline irrigation solution. The most frequently used irrigation solution is sodium hypochlorite ( bleach, Clorox), since it is effective in killing bacteria and digesting the organic debris. However, Clorox is quite expensive and the dentist might consider mixing it with two or more solutions during the treatment. 

Step 7: Root Canal Shaping

In this process, the root canal is shaped using small flexible instruments to accommodate the fillings and sealers. Afterward, the canals are re-cleaned to do away with any debris that would have been left out. 

Step 8: Filling the Tooth

The material used to fill the canal is selected carefully to ensure that it fits the clean canals. The material that is commonly used in this process is a thermoplastic known as gutta-percha. The material is heated to compress it against the root canal walls. It is filled in canal space along with an adhesive referred to as a sealer. This process is essential to prevent the canals from reinfection.

Step 9:  Sealing the Access Hole

The hole that was made to access the canals also needs to be sealed once the dental canal is filled. For a tooth without enough capacity to hold it, the dentist might decide to use a post in the canals. The posts are made out of metal or sturdy plastic. 

Step 10: Medication

At this point, the root canal procedure is usually completed. The dentist will recommend antibiotics to either treat or avoid any infection. Ensure that you follow the prescription carefully. After-treatments are usually minimal and last only for a few days to a week. You might experience minor discomfort and slight sourness. Such experiences are manageable using non-prescribed medication and prescriptions such as aspirin and ibuprofen. 

Step 11: Restoring the Tooth Structure

In most cases, the root canal usually denatures the structure of the tooth to a great extent. In such a case, it is recommended to restore the tooth by completely sealing its top. Studies indicate that in case the root canal gets recontaminated, the infection might recur close to the tooth. Therefore, it is recommended to consider this process.

What to Consider in Root Canal Aftercare

The fact that the root canal procedure has been successful does not mean that one should not use relevant aftercare measures. The following are a couple of considerations that you should make.

Avoid Stressing your Tooth

Until you have the crown replaced on your teeth, you should avoid chewing on the side of the mouth that has the treated tooth.

Take Soft Foods 

It is quite hard to determine what you should eat after an endodontic. One should choose soft foods and avoid hard or crunchy foods. Eating crunchy or hard foods might increase the chances of damaging the temporary filling, which serves to seal the teeth before the crown is placed. Taking hard foods might also damage your filing or break your teeth if you are not careful enough.

Gently Brush Your Tooth

The tooth surrounding your gums might still require proper care. Therefore, be careful when flossing or brushing the treated area. It might be a little challenging to floss the treated area due to the temporary filling. Take your time and do not force the floss since the filing might require some adjustments from your dentist. 

Treat Your Discomfort as Required 

Most dentists will recommend a couple of pain relievers after a root canal. However, the pain is not too intense since, typically, the tooth cannot sense any pain or pressure. You can also take some over-the-counter medication, but you have to maintain the recommended prescription. 

Alternatives to Root Canal

Although root canal might be a remarkable way to treat your tooth, there are other means that one can consider. Some of these alternatives can save the tooth besides tooth extraction, which requires one to get rid of the natural tooth. Also, they might require extensive treatments to ensure that the other parts of the tooth do not get infected. Some of the alternatives include:

  1. Extraction

This is the easiest and the most popular option for the root canal. The extracted tooth can be replaced with a bridge, partial denture, or with an implant. The procedure might be ideal, but it does not compare with the root canal since it does not save the natural tooth. 

  1. Natural Remedies

Your food choices can significantly affect your oral health. Therefore, choosing to take certain natural foods might be an excellent remedy for the treatment of your dental infection. The diet that one has to adopt should not have any processed sugars, avoid any grain products, and high-quality proteins.

  1. Ozone Gas

Studies have shown that ozone disinfection can go beyond the enamel. Therefore, irrigating the drilled area with ozone gas can significantly save your teeth from infections. Although there is evidence that ozone can disinfect the tooth, there are chances of having the infection return later on, and the only way to save your tooth would be by a root canal. 

Find a Northridge Emergency Dentist Near Me

A root canal would be the best way to save your natural tooth from decay and infection. Such a procedure is quite complicated and requires a professional dentist to perform it. If you are within Northridge, CA, Northridge Emergency Dentist has the best dentists for your consideration. With us, you are guaranteed of remarkable services and excellent results. Contact us at 818-928-5854 and get a chance to consult one of our dentists.