What to Know
Root Canals & Extractions
If there are two words that scare people away from the dentist more than “root canal,” we sure haven’t heard them. Although root canal procedures have a reputation of being painful, they are much less painful than the discomfort experienced leading up to the procedure. At Comfort Dental in San Jose, root canal treatments are performed with advanced tools and techniques to make you as comfortable as possible.
Causes of Nerve and Pulp Damage
Root canals are performed when the nerve of the tooth becomes infected or the pulp becomes damaged. The pulp is the soft area within the center of the tooth that contains blood vessels and connective tissues that nourish and protect the tooth. The nerves provide a sensory function, allowing teeth to experience heat or cold. When nerve tissue or pulp is damaged, the resulting bacteria can cause an infection or abscess that will require root canal therapy to heal. A tooth’s nerve and pulp can become irritated, inflamed, and infected due to:
Deep, untreated decay
Repeated dental procedures on a single tooth
A crack or chip in the tooth
Trauma and injury to the face, particularly the jaw
Root Canal Alternatives
The only alternative to root canal therapy in cases where a tooth’s nerve and/or pulp is badly damaged is having the tooth extracted. If you prefer tooth extraction to root canal therapy, you will need to decide whether you want to replace the tooth with a bridge, dental implant, or removable partial denture.
What to Know About Root Canals
If you experience severe toothache pain while chewing, prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, swelling or tenderness in the gums, or severe jaw pain, book an appointment with Comfort Dental to determine whether you need a root canal. To help you prepare in the event that root canal therapy is recommended, here are some important things to know about the procedure:
Preparing for Treatment: Your dentist will give you specific instructions to follow in the days and hours leading up to your root canal treatment. Some general tips include getting plenty of rest and not eating up to one hour before the scheduled appointment.
The Root Canal Procedure: Depending on your situation, root canal therapy may either require one or multiple office visits. In any case, your dentist will use local anesthesia to numb the area near the tooth before drilling an access hole and removing the pulp, nerve tissues, bacteria, and debris from inside the tooth. After the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, a crown is placed on top to prevent the tooth from breaking in the future.
Healing and Care: The treated tooth may feel sensitive for the first few days following the procedure, especially if there was significant decay or infection. Sensitivity and discomfort can be controlled with over-the-counter pain medications. Continue to brush and floss as you regularly would, and continue to see your dentist for cleanings and check-ups at normally scheduled intervals.