Root Canal Therapy

If any of the following sound like your situation, you may need a root canal in order to get you out of pain and keep your tooth.

  • “My tooth hurts really bad when I drink anything cold.“
  • “It hurts a lot when I chew.”
  • “My tooth is throbbing; it almost feels like a heartbeat in my tooth.”
  • “I have a big hole in my tooth, I think it’s a really big cavity.”
  • “Hot liquids and food make my tooth hurt.”
  • “Drinking water is the only thing that makes my tooth pain go away.”

What is a root canal?

A root canal is often the best treatment option to relieve pain when a patient has a toothache.  A root canal allows the patient to keep their tooth.

How Do I know if I need a root canal?

Signs that you might need a root canal include: tooth pain, swelling, prolonged discomfort to hot or cold temperatures, chewing discomfort, tenderness to touch, a bad taste in your mouth.

Why is my tooth hurting?

A root canal is necessary when the soft tissue aka nerve inside the tooth develops an infection or inflammation.  Infections or inflammation of the tooth’s nerve can develop for a variety of reasons including:  a deep cavity near or into the nerve of the tooth, an existing deep filling or crown on the tooth, or a cracked tooth.  Any time the nerve of the tooth gets bruised from trauma it may develop symptoms that won’t be alleviated until the nerve is removed by means of a root canal.

What does a root canal do?

A root canal prolongs the life of a tooth by removing the nerve tissue and contents inside the tooth that lead to painful symptoms or infection.  By cleaning and shaping the canal of the tooth the tooth is able to remain in the mouth and function normally.

Will I feel anything during a root canal?

Despite the historical connotation behind the idea of a root canal, modern technology has allowed for a much more comfortable patient experience. With proper local dental anesthesia you should not feel the procedure.  

Does a root canal weaken my tooth?

Yes.  In order to properly clean the tooth the dentist must remove the tooth structure above the inflamed or infected nerve tissue.  After the tissue inside the tooth is removed the tooth becomes brittle and susceptible to fracture.  Following a root canal the tooth should be properly restored with a build up and crown in order to protect the tooth from contamination or fracture.  

Post-Op Intructions

Congratulations on surviving the dreaded root canal. You’ll be happy to know that, according to the current literature, the five year success rate for root canals is over 90%.

It’s not uncommon for there to be some minor to moderate discomfort in the area after the root canal. It is normal for the tooth to be uncomfortable for 10 days after today’s treatment. Sometimes, depending on the circumstances, the tooth and surrounding tissues may remain sore for a few weeks post treatment. This can be due to a number of factors which include soreness from the injection, soreness from placement of the rubber dam clip and from inflammation around the tip of the root.

Inflammation is a normal part of the healing process as your body rids the area around the tip of the tooth of the remains of the infected pulp tissue. Your tooth may be sensitive to biting pressure or the tooth may even feel loose. It’s all the result of the inflammation and sensitivity of the nerve ending in the tissue just outside the end of the root where we cleaned, irrigated and placed filler and sealer material.

DO NOT eat or drink anything for the next half hour.

DO NOT “check out” the area with your tongue or finger. You have a temporary filling in the tooth and it takes about half an hour to harden. You are also numb and may damage your tissues.

DO NOT use the tooth to bite down on anything hard (peanuts, pretzels, ice, etc.) until the permanent crown has been placed on the tooth. The tooth is prone to fracture and if you bite down on anything too hard or crunchy you may crack and ultimately lose the tooth. You will need to have the permanent crown or filling placed as soon as possible.

WHAT DO I DO IF THERE’S DISCOMFORT?

The primary line of defense against discomfort is over the counter medication. We recommend that you take 600 mg ibuprofen (three over the counter pills of Advil, Motrin or generic equivalent) every 6 hours for the next two days, OR if you are unable to take ibuprofen, 1000mg acetaminophen (two extra strength Tylenol or generic equivalent) every six to eight hours for the next two days. Most of the time this is enough to handle any discomfort. 

You may also be given a prescription for an antibiotic and/or a prescription for a pain reliever. Fill the prescription for the antibiotic and begin taking the medication. Fill the prescription for the pain reliever only if you need it. It is our goal to ensure that you are comfortable.