The term root canal actually refers to the physical hallows within the tooth that house things like nerve tissue and blood vessels, but when most people talk about getting “root canals” they are actually referring to the endodontic procedure that removes and cleans any of the diseased and infected pulp within the tooth. These endodontic procedures are actually a much better alternative than extracting a diseased tooth, because a properly cleaned and crowned tooth will take a lot less maintenance than a replacement tooth over the years.
Signs You May Need A Root Canal
- Extreme sensitivity to heat, cold, or pressure
- Frequent tooth or gum pain
- Severe and noticeable discoloration in the teeth
- A constant foul odor or bad taste when you brush
- Pus forming in the mouth
- The lymph nodes under your jaw are tender or swollen
Contact your dentist as soon as possible if you’re experiencing one or more of these problems. It’s also possible that an endodontic problem can be found during a regular checkup as well, so make sure you keep scheduling those bi-annual cleaning visits.
Other than wisdom teeth extractions, root canal procedures were known for being the most notoriously painful dental procedures one could go through, but not anymore. Thanks to all the advances in modern medicine, root canals are no more painful than getting a simple filling – all you really feel is a bit of pressure. The process is clean and simple:
- Before your procedure your dentist will want to get x-rays done to determine the extent of the damage and what exactly needs to be repaired.
- Typically you won’t need to “go under” for this simple treatment – a local anesthetic will sufficiently prevent you from feeling any pain during the procedure
- A simple device called a dental dam will keep the affected tooth clean and free of saliva
- If possible, your dentist will provide you with a bite block so that you can relax your jaw muscles
- The longest part of the procedure (and the moment you might feel a little pressure) will be when your dentist opens your tooth and removes the infected pulp, tissue, or any pus. After which your root canals will be cleaned, medicated, and a biocompatible replacement will be inserted. Sometimes a second appointment may be necessary to complete the root canal.
- Finally a temporary filling will be put into place while your crown (see crowns) is being created.
Your dentists will take you through the process and any small details that are unique to your specific case. With proper maintenance, your fixed tooth can last you for the rest of your life!