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All About Root Canal Therapy

Posted on 10/25/2015 by Jonathan Woodyard
A woman about to receive a dental root canal treatment from her dentist.A root canal is one of the most feared dental treatments, but much of this unease comes from patients that simply don't know much about the procedure. Root canal therapy is an extremely important dental treatment that can actually save your teeth and prevent extraction. By better understanding root canal therapy, you'll be informed about just how this treatment option can benefit your teeth and continued oral health.

When is a Root Canal Warranted?

The enamel will typically protect the teeth, but any time that a major breach is made into this hard, outer layer, a root canal might be necessary. When teeth are affected by large cavities or decay, a root canal may be needed before any additional restoration can take place. Likewise, if you have broken a tooth and pathogens were allowed to invade the pulp and nerves in order to cause an infection, a root canal will be needed, and severe damage to the tooth as a result of a traumatic injury can also warrant this procedure.

What Are the Signs that You Need a Root Canal?

In most cases, your first sign that a root canal is needed is a simple toothache. Unfortunately, many patients may disregard this as a cavity or other problem and delay treatment, but this can allow the infection to worsen. Likewise, not all toothaches are an indication that a root canal is necessary, but some of the signs of a severe infection include:

•  Serious tooth pain when eating or putting pressure onto the affected area
•  A small bump, similar to a pimple, on the gums near the affected tooth
•  Sensitivity to cold or hot temperatures that lingers after the stimulus has been removed
•  A tooth that appears darker in color than the surrounding teeth
•  Swelling and tender gums near the area in which you are experiencing pain

What Happens during the Procedure?

If your dentist has decided that a root canal is needed to save your tooth, you may have anxiety about the procedure. However, these treatments are extremely common and straightforward. First, X-ray images will be taken so that your dentist can see how the canals of your teeth are shaped, and he will also determine if the infection has spread to the surrounding bone. The area will be numbed with a local anesthetic, and to keep the tooth dry during treatment, a dental dam will be placed around the tooth.

Your dentist will start the actual procedure by drilling an access hole in the tooth so that the pulp, bacteria, and nerve tissue can be accessed. These components will be removed to thoroughly clean out the inner workings of the tooth. Once this part of the procedure is complete, the tooth will need to be sealed, possibly after placing medication inside in order to clear up the infection. To seal the tooth, a sealer paste and a compound known as gutta-percha is inserted into the root canal, and a filling is placed over the access hole.

In many cases, your root canal therapy will be completed at this point. However, if your dentist needed to put in a large filling, or if your tooth is experiencing other weaknesses, a crown may need to be added in order to further protect the tooth. The crown will restore your tooth to its full function and will prevent breakage.

What Happens after a Root Canal?

You should feel quite a bit better after your root canal, as the pain that you felt before the procedure should be eliminated. You may experience some sensitivity after the treatment - possibly for a few days - but this discomfort should be easily treated with ibuprofen or Tylenol.

If you are in need of a root canal or simply have questions about the procedure, please contact our office for more information.


Woodyard Dental Care, PSC

Dr. Jonathan Woodyard, DMD

3235 Olivet Church Road
Paducah, KY 42001



Phone: (270) 408-1321

Fax: (270) 408-1323


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