Root Canal Therapy
In the dental world, there isn’t another procedure surrounded by more misperception than the root canal. The fact is a root canal can save a tooth that has extensive decay or other damage, letting the patient keep his or her natural tooth rather than having it extracted. Patients think, incorrectly, that root canals are extremely painful when in reality they aren’t any more painful than having a normal filling placed.
Dr. Flax has extensive expertise with endodontics, so he can perform root canals right in our office. That way you don’t need a separate appointment with an endodontist. Plus, with our CEREC® system, the entire root canal and crown procedure can usually be done in a single appointment!
What is a Root Canal?
No one wants a root canal, until they need one. A root canal saves the entire tooth by removing the infection and sealing the canal. It usually can be done in one visit at Flax Dental. If all goes according to plan you’ll never have pain in that tooth again.
First a quick tooth anatomy lesson. The outer enamel layer above the gumline is called the crown. Beneath the enamel is another hard layer called the dentin. Inside the dentin is the pulp. The pulp is where you’ll find the blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue between the tooth and the jaw. The pulp extends from the crown of the tooth to the tip of the roots. Inside of the roots are the root canals.
Problems arise when the pulp of a tooth becomes seriously inflamed or infected. This can occur if decay has invaded the interior of the tooth, if a tooth has a very large filling, if it is cracked or chipped, or from trauma such as contact or even previous orthodontic work. Whatever the cause, the infected pulp needs to be fully removed and the tooth cleaned out, disinfected, and filled. That, in a nutshell, is a root canal.
How do I know if I need a Root Canal?
This is where much of the misperception with root canals comes from — an infected tooth will often be very painful because the nerves are exposed and inflamed. Other signs a tooth could need a root canal are prolonged sensitivity to hot and cold, tenderness to the touch or when chewing, discoloration of the tooth, swelling or tenderness in the gum tissue surrounding the tooth, and the appearance of persistent pimples on the gums in the area. Sometimes, however, there will be no symptoms.
We can spot the infection during our routine x-rays and exams. But sometimes patients skip those regular checkups or put off a potential root canal because they are afraid of the procedure. In these cases, the infection may spread to the surrounding tissues, and an abscess will form and extend up the roots of the tooth. Now the tooth will probably not be salvageable and will likely need extraction.
Root Canal treatment
After numbing the tooth and the surrounding tissue, Dr. Flax places a dental dam to keep the area dry. He then drills a small hole in the crown of the tooth to access the pulp. Through that hole, he utilizes very small files to remove the infected pulp, damaged nerve tissues, and other debris. The now-empty root canal and tooth cavity is then flushed with modern disinfectants to remove any remaining debris and disinfect the cavity.
Next, the empty pulp chamber and root canals are filled with a rubber-based material called gutta-percha and sealed with adhesive cement. The exterior hole in the crown is then filled with a standard filling. In some cases this is all that is needed. Usually, however, the tooth will require a crown to protect it and maintain its strength and function.
At this point, Dr. Flax will use the office’s CEREC® system to create your porcelain crown to strengthen the tooth to avoid breakage. This can be done the same day or at a later date.
Root Canal recovery
As mentioned above, you may have some soreness, but generally you’re free to use the tooth normally. You’ll notice that the extreme pain and sensitivity you had previously are now completely gone. As for maintenance, simple normal home hygiene is all that is needed.
Root Canal pain
Modern technology and methods have made root canals no more painful than having a typical filling. You have to remember that the source of your pain prior to your root canal is your infected nerves. During the root canal, Dr. Flax removes all of those nerves and other infected tissue, so the tooth no longer has any sensation.
After your root canal, the inflamed gums around your tooth may need a couple days to calm down, and your jaw may have a bit of soreness because it was open for a period of time. But this is not acute pain and is easily manageable with over-the-counter pain relievers.
How long does a Root Canal last?
Once Dr. Flax removes the infected pulp, fills the tooth, and places the crown your tooth should last as long as the other teeth in your mouth. People assume that the pulp is critical to the lifespan of the tooth, but the pulp is really only important during the growth and development of the tooth. Once the tooth is fully mature it can survive without the pulp, as the surrounding tissues provide nourishment. With good hygiene, a tooth that has had a root canal can last for the rest of the patient’s life.
Financing Options Available
Schedule a consultation
Root canal is something a lot of dentists shy away from. Not Dr. Flax. He stays current on the latest techniques and tools to make a root canal more comfortable for the patient while increasing the success rate.
No one wants a root canal, but everyone wants the relief it brings, stopping the threat of infection and making life a bit more manageable. When you’ve been told you need a root canal, remember Flax Dental and the dedication and training of Dr. Flax. To learn more, call (404) 255-9080 to schedule a consultation at our office in Atlanta.