Understanding Root Canals

You go to the dentist and they tell you, you need a root canal. You may then think to yourself, what even is a root canal? Well, look no further, this blog post will inform you about the ins and outs of root canals!

what is a root canal?

 A root canal is a dental procedure done to repair a tooth that is damaged by either decay or infections. During the root canal, the nerve and the pulp (damaged area) are removed, then the inside of the tooth is cleaned out and sealed. The nerve being removed will do no harm to the tooth’s health, since the only function of the nerve is to provide the feeling of hot or cold. The pulp (soft area)  needs to be removed if damaged in order to not spread bacteria or create an abscess. 

how do i know i need a root canal?

Your dentist will be the deciding factor on whether or not you will need a root canal. However, tooth pain is a big factor in knowing you might need to visit your dentist to see if you need a root canal. The pain can range from mild to severe and can increase when you bite down on the tooth. You may also experience sensitivity with hot foods, and your gums may be swollen or tender. 

what to expect during a root canal?


The dentist will first take an x-ray to be able to locate any decay.

2. Anesthesia

The dentist will provide local anesthesia to the tooth and surrounding area in order to make the patient feel more comfortable and at ease. The procedure is relatively painless when properly done. Dr. Higgs offers sedation dentistry for those patients who may be a little anxious or would just rather sleep through the procedure.

3. Root Canal

Treatment begins with the initial removal of the tooth crown, or top, to allow access to the pulpal tissue. Once the affected pulpal tissue is exposed, the affected area is removed. The area surrounding and containing the pulpal tissue is carefully cleaned, enlarged, and shaped to provide a clean, bondable surface for filling with a permanent filler to prohibit any further infection and discomfort.

4. Sealing

The dentist will then seal the tooth with a filling or crown, or provide a temporary filling if there is any infection that needs to clear up first. After filling, a crown is fabricated to complete the restoration of the natural tooth. The procedure is generally spread over several visits to assure the infected pulp and associated bacteria have been eliminated. 

what to expect after a root canal?

The tooth may feel sensitive, but it can be managed with over the counter medication such as ibuprofen. Until the root canal is finished with its’ filling or crown, try to minimize chewing on the tooth. Also, you can brush, floss, and use mouthwash like normal. 

alternatives to root canals?

The only alternative to getting a root canal is to get an extraction, and replace the tooth with an implant or a bridge. However, this alternative is more costly and requires more visits to the dentist.

Dr. Higgs will help you decide on the most appropriate treatment for your comfort and crown replacement options (e.g., all-ceramic crowns, porcelain fused to gold, all gold crowns) to achieve the most natural-looking restoration for your smile. For more information or to schedule a consultation at our office, please give us a call at (480) 812-2800, or come to our office at 3175 S. Price Road, Suite 140, Chandler, AZ 85248. We look forward to seeing you!

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