Root Canals Explained

November 22, 2021 Jeffrey T. Baker, DDS PC

Dental anxiety can be a major obstacle for a lot of people to get the care they need. This is especially true for root canals which have gotten a bad reputation over the years, but thanks to advancements in technology and anesthesia, this procedure has completely transformed. If you need a root canal, but feel paralyzed or held back by fear, our dentists want to help restore your oral health.

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Prevent Tooth Loss & Further Infection

Root canals may save your tooth from needing to be extracted if done earlier enough. They’re important because they stop the infection from spreading to other body parts by removing and rinsing away bacteria and infected tissue. We’ll talk about this more in-depth when we discuss the specific steps of a root canal procedure.

You May Need a Root Canal if…

You may need a root canal if you have a cavity that’s severe enough to go through the first two layers of your tooth, first the enamel and second the dentin, then make it into the pulp which is where the blood vessels and nerves are.

If you do have advanced tooth decay and an infected root canal, you may have a dental abscess which is a buildup of pus that can cause

  • Immense toothache
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Pain while chewing
  • Difficulty Swallowing
  • Fever

If you see a pimple protruding from your gums this can be a sign of a dental abscess. The abscess may burst, in which case you’ll likely feel some pain relief, but you still need to see a dentist as soon as possible because the bacteria can now spread easier.

The Procedure

Root canal procedures have a number of steps to them. First, if your dentist hasn’t already taken x-rays of the affected area, they likely will. Next is numbing the tooth, nerves, and gums so you don’t feel any pain. You may feel a pinch at first, but this is only to inject the anesthetic.

The dentist will then place a dental dam, a small rubber sheet, in your mouth to protect the affected tooth and keep it clear and dry for the duration of the procedure. Then, using a specialized drill, they will open up the top of the tooth and using other small tools extract the infected pulp from inside the tooth.

The pulp cavity and root canals are then thoroughly cleaned out and disinfected. After all, the debris has been removed and the internal tooth has been properly treated, the tooth is filled with gutta percha, a thermoplastic filling originally derived from the malaysian percha tree. Lastly, a permanent crown is fitted to the tooth.

Root Canal Alternatives

While there aren’t many options for alternative procedures, there are a couple. If your tooth is too severely decayed, your dentist may recommend a tooth extraction. In this case, you’ll need to schedule another appointment to get that tooth replaced with a dental implant or bridge. 

A pulpectomy is similar to a root canal, except there’s no permanent crown placed on the tooth. This procedure is generally only for children that have excessive tooth decay/trauma who haven’t had their permanent teeth come in yet.

Request an Appointment

Our dentists in Shelby Township, MI want to relieve you of oral pain caused by severe tooth decay, a dental abscess, or a build-up of bacteria and plaque. Call (586) 992-9222 to schedule an appointment with us if you are in need of a root canal.

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