So the day has finally come. Your dentist has told you that one of your teeth is extremely damaged and you need a root canal. This has been the day you’ve been dreading for years. You’ve always heard about how painful root canals are. Can’t they just mercifully pull your tooth and be done with it? Actually, the “pain” often associated with the procedure is a complete myth, all thanks to modern dentistry. A root canal is actually one of the best ways to relieve your worst dental pain, not cause it. Dr. Krista Cayo is going to answer some of your most common questions about root canals, and let you know why you have nothing to fear.
1. When Do I Need a Root Canal?
Your tooth is actually composed of layers. You’re probably familiar with the outermost layer, enamel. Just inside it is a layer of a material called dentin, and within that lies the dental pulp. This is where the nerve of your tooth resides, and it’s why you are able to actually feel your teeth. When a cavity has been left alone for a long time, or the tooth has suffered an injury, the pulp can become damaged. At this point, your tooth is probably in a lot of pain because the nerve itself has become affected, and the only way to fix it is with a root canal. Here are some other signs that you may need one:
- Swelling or redness in the gums around the tooth
- Swelling or sensitivity in the cheek around the tooth
- Pain when biting down on the tooth
- A bump on the gums right next to the tooth
The kind of pain associated with this is much more severe than an average toothache. At this point, you should act quickly or the tooth may need to be removed entirely.
2. What is the Procedure Like?
When you come in for a root canal at Cayo Dental Care, the procedure involves 3 basic steps:
- An access hole will be drilled into your tooth to access the pulp.
- The damaged pulp will be removed and the area will be cleaned.
- Your tooth will be filled with a substance to support its structure and prevent it from becoming infected.
The procedure can take anywhere from 30-90 minutes depending on your particular situation. Most of the time, it can be completed in one visit. If a large amount of your tooth needed to be removed, you may need to return for another visit to have it fully restored with a dental crown in St. Peters.
In specific cases where the damage to your tooth is particularly severe, Dr. Cayo will refer you to a local endodontist to perform your root canal.
3. Will It Hurt?
This is the big question. The definitive answer is no. The area that is being treated will be thoroughly numbed before the procedure even begins. This will assure that you feel no physical discomfort at any time. The pain from your infection or injury will be much greater than anything you feel during your root canal. It is intended to relieve your pain, not cause it. You can come into the office with the peace of mind that you will not be hurt.
4. How Will It Feel Afterward?
Afterwards, your tooth may be a little more sensitive, but there should be drastic pain relief. Any lasting discomfort should abate in a week or so, and can be easily managed with over-the-counter medicine.
Have More Questions?
The root canal has garnered a bad reputation over the years, so hopefully some of these answers have helped dispel a few harmful myths. If you are in extreme dental pain, a root canal is your answer, not your problem.
If you still have questions about root canals or think you might need one, please give us a call today.