Most people do not readily see a root canal in their future. Pain is usually what convinces a person to discuss the possibility of a root canal with a dentist or endodontist.
The experience of pain or discomfort while chewing is the first sign that something is amiss with a tooth. Dental pain isn’t always consistent, and may get worse or disappear throughout the day. The gum may appear red or swollen, as well.
Hot or cold foods may bring a flare of pain that takes a while to subside.
Always contact a dental office about a painful tooth. Even though the pain subsides at times, it will not get better. The pain will worsen as the decay progresses. If the pain is very severe, the dental staff may recommend emergency treatment at once. An ice pack on the outside of the jaw may provide some relief while you wait.
The dental appointment
The dentist will make a visual examination of your teeth, and then take an X-ray of the affected tooth. The X-ray will help the Oshawa dentist diagnose the extent of damage in the tooth. If the damage involves the nerve, the dentist may recommend a root canal.
What is a root canal?
A root canal is an intervention to save an infected tooth. It will focus upon repairing damage to the pulp.
The pulp is the area protected by the outer enamel of the tooth. It contains nerve fibers, veins and connective tissue. Each tooth has a nerve, which enters the tooth at the very end of the root. The pain of a severe toothache means that damage to the pulp and nerve have occurred.
A root canal will remove the infected pulp, clean it and disinfect the area. The nerve canals containing the roots of the tooth will be thoroughly cleared of infected tissue.
Will a root canal be painful?
No. A root canal is no more painful than a routine filling. Anesthesia is injected into the gum next to the tooth and it will become thoroughly numb.
What happens next?
The infected pulp is completely removed. This will mean that the living tissue of the tooth is gone, so it is no longer a living tooth. Instead, a gutta-percha material is placed in the cavity left by the pulp and the entrance sealed over with cement. Gutta-percha is a kind of rubber, combined with a formulation of sealer.
A newer technology has been introduced in the form of a solid, bonded material which strengthens the tooth roots by bonding closely to them. This material is called RealSeal or Resinate. At this point, it is unknown whether the bonded filler will be an alternative to gutta-percha, or an eventual replacement.
Root canals are quite successful, and with the right care, they can last for a lifetime. Good oral care and regular dental visits are the best investments for healthy teeth.