A root canal is necessary when the tooth’s soft inside layer (the dental pulp) becomes damaged or infected. This can be a result of dental trauma, untreated tooth decay, or a crack in the tooth that allows bacteria to get inside.
Symptoms that suggest you need a root canal from our Spartanburg practice include:
- Tooth pain
- Swelling of the gums and face
- Lingering tooth sensitivity
- Tender gums
- Exposed nerve
Pain is not always a symptom, however. Just because you do not feel any pain does not mean there isn’t damage or a present infection that needs to be treated. When there is no pain, this suggests that the infection is significant and the nerves in the tooth have died. The infection has not gone away, you just no longer feel it. This infection can spread to the other teeth and through the bloodstream if left untreated.
At Skylyn Dental Associates, we perform root canal treatments on posterior and anterior teeth. While the procedure is ultimately the same process in both the front and back teeth, the back teeth contain up to 4 canals while the front teeth can have just one.
This makes the cleaning, sanitizing, and reshaping of the canals a much longer process on the back teeth and it can be more difficult to see or access all of the canals in the molars. As a result, root canals in the anterior (front) teeth are easier.
These teeth are also thinner which makes the anesthesia very effective at relieving pain. The recovery time is also shorter and the front teeth do not usually require dental crowns, unlike in the molars.
You’ll first come in for a consultation in Spartanburg so we can examine your tooth and take x-rays to determine if the tooth can be saved with a root canal. To begin the procedure, we administer a local anesthetic to numb your mouth. We’ll then drill an access hole into the tooth so we can access the dental pulp.
Our Spartanburg team will use a special tool to scrape out the dental pulp, removing all of the damaged and infected tissue.
We then clean, reshape, and disinfect all of your tooth’s canals and apply medication when an infection is present. In molars, this process may take multiple appointments in which case a temporary filling is placed in between appointments.
Once the pulp has been removed and the canals thoroughly cleaned, we fill your tooth with a material called gutta-percha and the access hole is sealed with a permanent filling. We may recommend that you place a dental crown on top of the tooth in large, vulnerable molars.
Most people fully recover from a root canal within just a few days, but it can take up to 1-2 weeks depending on individual healing differences, the complexity of the procedure, and your lifestyle habits.
To encourage proper healing, you shouldn’t eat or drink any hot beverages until the anesthetic has worn off. Once you can eat again, stick to soft foods for the first few days. Avoid smoking which can prolong the healing process.
You can continue to brush and floss your teeth as normal but be careful around the tooth that received the root canal. Try not to chew on this side of the mouth. To reduce pain and swelling, take anti-inflammatory pain medication, keep the head elevated, and apply a cold compress to the area. Avoid hot, spicy, crunchy, and hard foods for at least the first few days.