What Happens During a Root Canal?

Most people cringe with uncertain discomfort at the mere sound of the words “you need a root canal.” In reality, a root canal, also known as “endodontic therapy,” is actually a good thing. It means hope for saving your tooth – and saving your smile.

At South Anchorage Dental Center, Dr. Brimhall makes an effort to not only perform gentle and effective root canal procedures, but also to help you feel better about the overall treatment experience.

Understanding the how’s and why’s of root canals will help you feel much more confident about deciding whether or not this procedure is right for you.

Why Do You Need Endodontic Therapy?

A root canal is a procedure intended to treat a very specific problem: death of or damage to a tooth’s nerve.

There’s more to your tooth than meets the eye. Inside that solid white crown is a hollow chamber filled with delicate nerves and blood vessels. This inner layer of soft tissue is called the “pulp” of the tooth.

The pulp is a sterile and highly sensitive structure. When a cavity or fracture enables bacteria to seep into the tooth, the pulp can develop a serious infection. Hypersensitivity or an abscess may be the first thing you notice.

This is where a root canal comes into play. Endodontic treatment removes the infected tissue and nerves from the tooth and fills the tooth from the inside, preventing a recurrent infection.

Delaying Treatment Could Have Serious Consequences

What can happen if you ignore an abscessed or cracked tooth? If dental nerve gets infected, you could develop an abscess. This is when the infection is trapped inside of the tooth and then escapes out the root and into the supporting bone.

Abscesses don’t go away on their own. Instead, they can trigger infections and other serious problems elsewhere in your body (even your brain.)

Without treatment, your compromised tooth will need to be removed. This can cause changes in your bite patterns and require extra treatments such as dental implants or a bridge. When possible, it’s much better to hold onto your natural tooth by preserving it with a root canal.

Planning for Your Endodontic Treatment

In general, you should plan to be in the dental chair for about an hour, but this time may vary. After all, some teeth have more roots than others. Root canals are delicate procedures that take some time, so be prepared with your favorite music and a pair of headphones to keep your mind off of things.

You will be completely numb for the procedure. Despite the reputation that past root canals may have, they are relatively painless procedures, nowadays. Most discomfort is associated with the injection or when you struggle to keep your mouth open without a comfortable prop.

Dr. Brimhall will carefully clean out your infected tooth to relieve pressure and remove debris all the way toward the bottom of the roots. He then medicates the inside of your tooth to make sure no bacteria are present before filling it up with a special material that seals off the open nerve chamber.

Afterward, you will be fitted for a dental crown. This “cap” protects and reinforces your tooth, which might otherwise become brittle and prone to chipping.

Root Canals at South Anchorage Dental Center

How do you know if you need a root canal? Watch out for symptoms of:

  • Extreme temperature sensitivity
  • Obvious tooth fractures
  • Swelling on your gums near the root of your tooth (abscess)
  • Pain while biting
  • Large cavities

Many times, the need for a root canal is noticed on x-rays well before you feel any symptoms. That’s why it’s so important to visit Dr. Brimhall for an evaluation and professional diagnosis.

Contact our dental team in Anchorage as soon as possible to schedule your appointment.