Root Canal Therapy

Root canals are one of the most common dental procedures that we perform here at Redwood Family Dentistry. While this is a very routine procedure, many of our patients feel anxious or nervous about getting a root canal when we recommend it. This is generally because they don’t know what to expect, or they are not looking forward to the potential pain and inconvenience they think a root canal may cause.

If you are in need of a root canal, we will explain the procedure to you and answer any questions you may have. In order to help our patients prepare for a potential root canal, we have answered some of our most frequently asked questions about root canals below.

Why do I need a root canal?

Root canals are performed for the purpose of preserving your teeth and preventing further damage in the future. A root canal may become necessary when a tooth suffers damage from decay or physical trauma, like chipping or cracking. If such damage occurs, the pulp (or root) of the tooth can become infected. The pulp is a collection of blood vessels located in the center of the tooth, underneath the enamel and dentin. The pulp is connected to nerve endings, and is often actually referred to as the nerve of the tooth. If pulp is exposed, infected, or damaged, it can cause significant pain. In fact, most toothaches and tooth sensitivities can be attributed to issues with the pulp.

Symptoms that may be signs that root canal therapy is needed include signs of infection like visible injury or swelling, temperature sensitivity, and pain in the tooth or gums. If left untreated, these issues can cause significant discomfort and pain, as well as significant long term damage.

How are root canals performed?

Depending on your specific situation, root canal therapy may be performed in a single visit or over a series of multiple visits. Your dentist will discuss your individual treatment plan with you before you begin.

Your dentist will begin your root canal treatment appointment by administering local anesthetic to numb the tooth that is being worked on. Your comfort is very important, and the local anesthesia will help prevent you from feeling any pain caused by the root canal therapy.

During your procedure, your dentist will drill a small hole through your tooth to access the pulp. The injured pulp will be removed and the root canal system will be thoroughly cleaned and resealed. A dam will be set up around the tooth to keep it dry and separated from your saliva during the procedure. The hole will then be filled, and your root canal procedure will be complete. After a root canal, we will create and place a crown to protect the treated tooth.

How long will it take me to recover from my root canal?

The recovery process following a root canal therapy treatment should be pretty quick. Your tooth may be sore for the rest of the day, so you’ll want to plan to stick to soft foods right after your procedure. Some patients find it necessary to take a regular pain reliever at home after the local anesthesia has worn off. You should be good to go in no time at all. If you experience intense or prolonged pain after your procedure, contact your dentist immediately.