What to Know About Root Canal Treatments

Root canals are often the subject of jokes or irrational fears about pain, and can be a major reason some people try to avoid going to the dentist. The reality of root canals is much different–they’re generally not painful, recovery times are fairly quick, and they offer a number of serious advantages over other approaches. By better understanding root canals, you’ll become a more informed patient and more capable of making informed decisions about your oral health. So let’s talk about what you need to know about root canal treatments and try to put some of the myths to rest.

What Happens During a Root Canal?

A root canal is a procedure intended to treat a damaged, infected, or abscessed tooth by removing the infected pulp, replacing it with another substance, and then sealing the tooth. Generally speaking, during a root canal a hole is drilled or cleared in the top of the tooth. Then, the dentist uses a drill and other tools to remove the pulp and other infected or damaged tissues from the tooth and its roots. The remaining space is then cleaned and sterilized, filled with a flexible material called gutta-percha, and then sealed. 

After a root canal, the tooth looks and functions just like a natural tooth, because it is! By preserving as much of the natural tooth as possible, root canal treatments allow the patient to resume a normal range of activities fairly quickly. Following a root canal, the tooth in question requires no special care–just regular and effective brushing, flossing, and visits to the dentist. 

Recovering from a Root Canal

There’s a real and abiding popular myth that claims root canals are painful procedures with extended recovery times. That may have been true long ago, but the reality is that contemporary root canals are generally accomplished with minimal discomfort to the patient and that most patients recover fairly quickly. Following a root canal, the majority of patients are able to resume regular activities within a few hours! This is a far cry from the many misunderstandings of what a root canal is.

Root canals are most often accomplished in a single visit to the dentist’s office. In fact, one of the major advantages of root canal treatment is that root canals avoid complicated surgeries or multiple office visits associated with other dental procedures. This is far more convenient for the patient, more cost-effective, and creates far less risk of additional complications than many other options.

Do I Need a Root Canal?

Whether or not you need a root canal depends on your current state of oral health. As we mentioned earlier, root canals are used to treat infected, abscessed or otherwise seriously damaged teeth. Some signs that you may need a root canal include the following:

  • A chipped or cracked tooth
  • Pain while eating or drinking, particularly when consuming things that are hot or cold
  • Pain while chewing or biting
  • Swollen or tender gums
  • Darkening or discoloration of the gums
  • Pimples, abscesses, or pus forming on the gums

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, we recommend contacting your dentist immediately. These are signs that something is seriously wrong with your teeth, gums, or jaw and that it should be attended to immediately.

If you have a particular dental concern, are curious about a cosmetic dental procedure to improve your smile, or just need an exam and cleaning, contact Hickory Dental Care today. Our friendly and helpful staff will make an appointment so that you can come in and talk things over with us. No matter your dental care needs, we’re here to help!