Root canals may have a bad rap, but this common dental procedure saves more than 15 million teeth each year. A root canal may be recommended to a patient that has a severely infected or damaged tooth. Instead of removing the tooth, root canal therapy may be successful in saving the tooth, thus preserving its look and function.
The term ‘root canal’ comes from the cleaning of the canals inside the tooth root. In decades past, root canals were painful; however, modern technology enables local dental professionals to perform the procedure under local anesthesia with little to no discomfort.
Although undergoing a root canal may seem scary, the procedure isn’t as bad as most people think. In honor of National Root Canal Awareness Week, our Clermont dental practice would like to share information all about this procedure.
Root Canal Procedure
The average root canal takes approximately 30 to 60 minutes and is performed over one to two sessions. The procedure begins with a thorough examination of the affected tooth and an X-ray to obtain an image of the pulp chamber. Next, the dentist will administer a local anesthetic to numb the tooth. A dental dam is used to isolate the tooth and prevent saliva and other substances from interfering with the procedure.
Once the prep work is completed, the dentist will drill into the crown to create an opening in the pulp chamber. The infected or inflamed pulp is cleaned and the space is shaped to make room for a filling material which will replace the tooth pulp. Once the tooth is filled, the root canal is sealed to prevent further infections in the tooth. Your Clermont dentist may recommend placing a crown on the tooth for a full restoration.
Signs that a Root Canal May Be Needed
Root canals are often recommended to patients suffering from irreversible pulpitis, an inflammation or infection of the dental pulp. This type of tooth damage is usually caused by a deep cavity or an injury/trauma to the tooth.
Certain signs may indicate the need for root canal therapy, such as:
- Tooth pain – Irreversible pulpitis often causes pain that may be constant or intermittent. Pain may also occur when you bite down or eat. Some patients experience lingering pain caused by hot or cold stimuli. In some instances, a patient will experience referred pain that manifests in the face, ear, or jaw.
- Fistula – A fistula refers to a small yellow, white, or red pimple-like bump that develops on the gums. This bump may be a sign of an infection that causes blood, pus, and waste materials to collect near the affected tooth.
- Swollen gums – When an infected or inflamed tooth attempts to “vent” to release the infection, it can cause the gums to become red, swollen, and tender. The gums around the tooth, as well as the tooth itself, may also darken.
- Tooth crack – If a tooth has a crack that extends to the tooth root, it usually cannot be saved. Teeth with large cracks generally require root canal therapy to save the tooth.
- Loose tooth – If an infection is left to spread, it can begin to affect the bone in which the tooth sits. As the bone softens and starts to degrade, the tooth may become mobile and could even fall out.
Prognosis After a Root Canal
The success rate and long-term prognosis following root canal therapy is very high. This is especially true when a crown is placed on the treated tooth. According to the European Journal of Dentistry, the procedure has a success rate between 86 and 98 percent.
Factors that can increase the risk of root canal failure includes periodontal (gum) disease, new bacterial infection, fracture to the treated tooth, and poor procedural technique. On average, a root canal can last 10 years or more. For many, root canals last a lifetime.
Contact Our Clermont Family Dentistry
Like any procedure, root canals do carry some risks. However, this procedure is very common and deemed a safe and effective treatment for inflamed and infected teeth. To learn more about root canals or to speak with a dentist in Clermont, FL about treatment options, contact Hancock Village Dental.