A Comprehensive Guide to Root Canal Procedures

patient sitting in chair while dentist works on root canal treatment

What is a root canal?

It is a common misconception that root canals are extremely painful procedures, but this isn’t necessarily true. Compared to the pain you would feel as a result of nerve damage in your teeth, a root canal is a walk in the park. Most people describe the process of getting a root canal as no worse than getting a cavity filled. At Wohler’s Family Dentistry in Marietta GA, we take advantage of the latest technological advancements to make sure your root canal process is as comfortable as possible. We know that understanding your root canal procedure can help take the edge off your visit. At Wohlers, we strive to make your visit as pleasant and stress-free as possible. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about your root canal procedure.

What is a Root Canal Procedure?

A root canal is a dental procedure that involves the removal of infected soft tissue, or pulp, from within the root canals of a damaged tooth. This is where root canal treatments get their name, as the root 

canal is the part being treated. Dental pulp is composed of connective tissue, nerves, blood vessels, and cells. When the pulp inside of your teeth gets infected, it causes the tooth to experience pressure and sensitivity that causes you to feel pain that can make biting and chewing uncomfortable. This pain acts as a sort of warning signal that something is wrong with your teeth. The infected pulp must be removed as soon as possible in order to salvage the rest of the tooth and prevent the infection from spreading. Root canal procedures are nothing to be afraid of, but they are very important for your dental health as well as your comfort.  

What to Expect During Your Root Canal at Wohlers Family Dentistry

When you first sit down for your root canal appointment, our dental professionals will numb the area with a local anesthetic, usually Novocaine. This is perhaps the most uncomfortable part of the procedure because the numbing agent must be injected into the gums and the tooth’s root. The pain won’t last long, much like any other shot, and the numbness will kick in in no time. If you are feeling any sort of trepidation about your root canal procedure, we offer nitrous oxide to help relieve the anxiety you are feeling. Nitrous oxide does not prevent pain, so Novocaine will still need to be administered for a painless and anxiety-free procedure. 

After the preparation is complete, the root canal procedure will begin. The steps are fairly simple and straightforward. The first step is accessing and cleaning the roots of the infected tooth. This is done by drilling through the top of the tooth to expose the root canals and pulp chamber. You may feel some slight pressure in the area where we are drilling, but because of the Novocaine, you shouldn’t feel any pain. If you do feel any pain, tell the dentist right away.

Once the access hole is made, your dentist will use specialized files to gently remove the infected pulp. The empty space created by extracting the infected pulp is filled with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. This step is called obturation, which is the technical term for a method of filling and sealing a tooth with root canal material.

up close photo of tooth being treated for root canal

After the empty space is filled, sometimes a crown is needed to strengthen and stabilize the tooth. This is necessary when the root canal is done on one of the back molars or if the tooth has significant damage.

Before you know it, your root canal appointment will be done! Most root canal appointments last between 30 and 60 minutes, but more complicated issues can take up to an hour and a half. Typical healing time for root canals is three full days. If you experience pain, discomfort, or sensitivity that lasts longer than 4 or 5 days, contact us right away as this could indicate an infection. Once the area completely heals you can go back to eating your favorite foods without pain!

Who Needs Root Canals?

A root canal is often needed when the nerve tissue inside of a tooth is damaged. The most common culprit of dental nerve damage is tooth decay. This is caused by improper dental care and can be avoided by brushing and flossing everyday, as well as by visiting the dentist regularly for general and preventative dental care. Weakened gum tissue can also lead to nerve damage and dental pulp infections. Dental health conditions such as periodontitis and gingivitis can cause gum tissue to weaken, making your nerves prone to damage, eventually leading to gum disease.

doctor and dental assistant working on root canal treatment for patient sitting in chair

Root canals are not to be confused with root planing and scaling. These are cleaning procedures that are done to both prevent and treat gum disease. When tartar, calculus, and bacteria are buried below the gumline of the tooth, the gum tissue is pulled away from the tooth creating a deep pocket. The tartar and calculus must be removed from the tooth in order for the gum to heal and close the pocket. If left untreated, the tartar and bacteria will continue to spread, leading to gum disease and the deterioration of your bones, tissue, and teeth. 

There are several signs to look out for that could signify you need a root canal. They are:

  • Lingering sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures 
  • Swollen or tender gums
  • Severe pain while chewing or biting

Conclusion

Root Canals are often accused of being a scary dental procedure, but they aren’t so bad! In fact, they are a breeze compared to the pain you feel as a result of damaged teeth. Our goal at Wohlers Family Dentistry in Marietta GA is to reassure our patients that root canals are nothing to worry about, and if you need one, you can trust us to take excellent care of you!

We hope it helps you feel more informed and at ease about your upcoming appointment. Feel free to reach out to us with any additional questions you may have by visiting our website at www.WohlersDentistry.com or calling us at 770-926-9914. We are always happy to help!

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