Root Canals - Boynton Beach, FL
Root canal therapy is a procedure performed by a root canal specialist (endodontist) in which the inside of a tooth is cleaned, decontaminated, filled, and sealed.
The inside of a tooth consists of a hollow space containing the tooth’s nerve. When bacteria enter deep inside the tooth and contaminate this hollow space containing the nerve, the tooth is infected and a root canal is needed to remove the bacteria and seal the tooth. How do bacteria enter deep inside a tooth? There are three main ways:
- A large cavity
- A fracture of a tooth
- A break or crack in a large filling.
Root Canals are very standard procedures today and aren’t something that should be feared. The end result of NOT having one can be more painful than actually having one.
There are many possible symptoms you may experience that signal you need a root canal. If you have any of these symptoms, you should contact your dentist for an evaluation:
When you drink something cold or hot, you experience pain that lingers for a few seconds or longer:
In this case, bacteria may have entered the inside of the tooth and begun to irritate the tooth’s nerve. This irritation of the nerve is exacerbated when the nerve is triggered by something cold or hot, and, thus, you feel pain.
Your tooth hurts when you bite on it:
In this situation, the bacteria may have traveled through the whole length of the tooth and caused an infection at the bottom of the tooth’s root. Thus, when you bite, you would be impinging on the infected tooth’s root, causing discomfort.
Your tooth aches to the point that you can’t sleep:
Bacteria may have entered the inside of the tooth and begun to intensely irritate the tooth’s nerve. You could feel constant pain from the bacteria hurting the tooth’s nerve.
You have a swelling of the gums or “pimple” on your gums:
In this case, the bacteria may have traveled the whole length of the tooth and have caused an infection at the bottom of the tooth’s root. Your body would fight the infection, forming pus. The accumulation of pus causes a swelling, which is often called a tooth abscess.
You have no symptoms, but a dentist told you that your tooth needs a root canal:
Commonly, patients that need a root canal do not have any symptoms or feel any pain in the tooth. In this case, the bacteria may have entered inside of the tooth and actually eroded away all of the tooth’s nerve. If the tooth does not have a nerve, you would not experience any sensation from that tooth. However, even though you don’t feel anything from the tooth, you may need a root canal to clean the inside of the tooth and remove the bacteria that eroded away the tooth’s nerve.
If a tooth definitively needs a root canal, the root canal appointment will begin with a detailed discussion about what to expect during the procedure and after. Before beginning, any questions you may have will be answered. Then, the tooth will be numbed so the procedure will be comfortable and painless. Although a root canal is generally viewed as painful, this is not the case. A caring endodontist and the highest quality numbing agents will ensure your comfort throughout the entire procedure. After the area is numb, the inside of the tooth is cleaned, decontaminated, filled and sealed. Throughout the procedure, to keep the tooth dry and isolated, a piece of rubber (called a rubber dam) will be placed around the tooth. During the root canal process, a few x-rays are taken to verify that the tooth is cleaned to the correct shape and length.
After the root canal is completed, detailed instructions will be provided and explained on how to care for the tooth in the coming days. Here are some general instructions:
Since the tooth will be numb right after completing the root canal, you should not eat until the numbing agent wears off. The length of time depends on the person, but two hours is the safe average.
You may feel mild to moderate discomfort for a few days after the root canal, so you will be instructed at the end of the appointment on what pain medication to take if needed.
If the tooth is swollen at the time of the procedure, an antibiotic may be prescribed as well.
In the next few days, warm salt-water rinses are helpful, around four times a day. You should mix a teaspoon of salt (regular table salt) in a glass of water (around 9 oz.). Swish for around 1 minute and spit.
Problems after a root canal occasionally occur. People may swell, develop an infection, bruise, develop a fever, or bleed after the procedure. If this happens to you or if anything is bothering you after any surgery in our office, please contact us immediately. We know this is a difficult period for you, so please do not hesitate to call with any questions or concerns (561) 733-4004.
Also, after a root canal, you should make an appointment with us to continue the treatment of the tooth.
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