Inside each tooth, under the white enamel and a hard layer called dentin, is soft pulp. It contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. Endodontics is the area of dentistry that deals with this tooth interior, to prevent, diagnose, and treat diseases or injury to it.
The pulp is contained in a canal, which is a thin, tube-like space extending from the crown of the tooth to the tip of its root within the jawbone. Here the pulp connects to the tissues surrounding the root. The pulp is important while teeth are growing and developing, but when growth ceases it’s no longer necessary to the tooth’s survival. The tooth receives nourishment from the blood supply surrounding it.
What Usually Causes Tooth Infections?
Tooth infection occurs when bacteria enters into dental pulp. This may be a result of trauma – such as broken or cracked tooth enamel – or untreated tooth decay which provides easy access for bacteria to enter into the innermost chamber of a tooth.
Symptoms of Infection
Typically, tooth pain is a sign of infection. The pain might be intermittent at first and over time progress to a constant dull throbbing, or a severe ache that might be felt in all the teeth on that side.
However, sometimes there is no pain and an abscess might be discovered on a routine X-ray.
How Can I Prepare for Endodontic Treatment?
There is very little you will need to do in preparation for your root canal. The procedure can be performed under local anesthetic alone, but sedation is an option if you are anxious or nervous about the procedure.
If sedation is being used, you may need to avoid eating before your procedure and arrange for a ride to and from our office. We will provide you with specific instructions, based on your needs, to make sure you are fully prepared for treatment.
Is Endodontic Treatment Painful?
Root canal treatment is no more painful than getting a cavity filled. We use a local anesthetic to help ensure optimal comfort and, while you may feel slight pressure and movement during treatment, you should not experience any pain.
Following a root canal, your jaw may be sore and you may experience some tenderness around the treatment area, but this is easily treatable with over-the-counter medications and should subside quickly. If you are concerned about discomfort or if you struggle with the idea of dental treatment, we would be happy to discuss sedation options during your initial consultation.
The goal of endodontic treatment is to change the internally infected or damaged tooth to an inert, viable state, so that it may continue to function in the chewing process. During root canal therapy, the diseased pulp is removed and the canal cleaned and sealed off to protect it. Dr. Warr will then place a prosthetic crown over the tooth to give it a new surface and make it stronger.
The tooth has now lost its nerve, which had been inside the root canal. It can no longer feel anything. But this doesn’t matter. Its job is to bite and chew, for which it needs no nerve. It will never ache again, though you’ll feel things like pressure and hardness through the nerves that remain in the area.
It has also lost its blood supply, but that also doesn’t matter. There is still a blood supply to nourish the gums and other soft tissue.
What Is Recovery Like From Endodontics Treatment?
During recovery from root canal treatment, you may experience some swelling, tenderness, and discomfort around the treatment area. This should subside on its own over the course of a few days. Swelling and discomfort can be addressed with over-the-counter medications as needed. In rare cases, complications may impact the body’s healing response resulting in a slightly longer recovery period. However, most patients feel back to normal after one to two days.
What Can I Expect From My Results?
Following root canal treatment you can expect to be free of pain, have a stronger smile, and a significantly reduced risk for related oral health issues. Teeth treated through a root canal are capped with a dental crown that is shaded and shaped to look completely natural while serving to protect the weakened tooth underneath. It may take a few days to get used to your new crown, but following this short adjustment period, the treated tooth should become entirely unnoticeable.
Alternatives to Root Canal Therapy
Most of the time, endodontic therapy is a relatively simple procedure done in one to three visits. It can save your diseased or injured tooth with little or no discomfort. The only alternative to endodontic therapy is extraction of the infected, diseased or injured tooth. If the infected tooth must be removed, dental implants are then an option, but saving the existing tooth is always the first priority.
Choosing the right dentist who cares about doing the right thing for you may be a daunting task. Dr. Warr will always do his best to answer any questions and concerns you may have, and will always strive to develop the treatment plan that is best for you.
What Are Some Holistic Alternatives to a Root Canal?
Various at-home remedies can help alleviate pain and treat an abscess, but it is important to remember that these will not address the cause of tooth infection and will not be able to prevent its recurrence. At-home remedies such as saltwater rinses, treatment with essential oils, hydrogen peroxide rinses, and oil pulling may help to temporarily address infection and treat pain, but they will not help to protect the tooth for any significant period of time.
A root canal is the most effective way to prevent infection from spreading and to help prevent tooth loss. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of an infected tooth, it is best to consult with an experienced dentist as soon as possible to protect yourself from more serious oral health issues.
Will I Need Treatment Again in the Future?
When a root canal is performed correctly, it is unlikely that you will need to have the tooth treated again. Infection is completely removed from the tooth before it is sealed and covered, steps that should help prevent future issues.
However, while uncommon, additional procedures may be needed when complications arise. The care you take of your teeth can allow infection to reoccur or to impact surrounding teeth. You must adopt a solid at-home routine and visit our office every six months for cleanings and examinations to help prevent common oral health issues, including infection, from occurring.
Schedule a Client Consultation
If you're suffering from tooth pain, don't delay: Call Warr Dental at 801-355-5385 today for a free consultation, or even schedule a virtual consultation. Our dental office in Salt Lake City serves patients in West Valley City, Draper and other nearby areas of Utah.