If you’re suffering from tooth pain, you may have to get a root canal. While this procedure has a bad reputation, it’s nothing you have to be afraid of. Harford County Dentistry’s Dr. Melissa Elliott, an experienced dentist in Bel Air, MD, answers your frequently asked questions about the root canal procedure and what to expect.
Root Canal Frequently Asked Questions
Question: What exactly is a root canal?
Answer: Many people think that the term root canal refers to the actual procedure. However, the root canal is the inner part of your tooth where nerves and sensitive tissue reside. When this area gets infected, that’s when a root canal procedure takes place. This is commonly called root canal therapy by the dental community.
Root canal therapy is needed when tooth decay is too advanced for a filling, but it’s possible to save the tooth from being fully extracted.
Question: How do I know when I need a root canal?
Answer: One of the most common indicators of needing root canal therapy is a toothache or sharp pain, especially when you’re trying to chew or bite. This tooth may also be sensitive to hot or cold food and beverages. If you notice a tooth changing color, particularly becoming darker, that’s an indication of infection. Lastly, the pain may not just be in the tooth. The gums around it may also be swollen and tender.
Question: What can I expect from the root canal procedure?
Answer: To start a root canal procedure, Dr. Elliott will drill a small hole into your tooth. Using special tools, she’ll remove the infected tissue from inside the tooth, ensuring it’s completely cleaned out. You may have to take antibiotics to ensure that the infection is completely healed before the procedure can be finished.
After the infection is gone and the tooth is clear, it will be filled with something called gutta-percha. This is a biocompatible rubber compound to replace the interior guts of the tooth. Once the tooth is filled, it then needs to be sealed. This is often done with a dental crown, offering strength and stability to the tooth, and bringing back full functionality.
Question: How badly will root canal therapy hurt?
Answer: The most pain actually comes from the infection itself. Your tooth will hurt and it’ll be hard to eat a normal diet like you’re used to. However, the actual root canal procedure feels like nothing more than a dental filling. You’ll have pain relief instantly when the infected material is removed.
Root Canal Therapy From Your Dentist in Bel Air, Maryland
At Harford County Dentistry, we want to be able to give you a beautiful and functional smile. If you’re suffering from pain and think you may need a root canal, call us today or schedule an appointment online!