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Preparing For a Root Canal? Here’s What You Need to Know

Nearly every adult knows what it feels like to experience tooth pain, but some discomfort is so severe that it can’t possibly be resolved with a few Ibuprofen. Significant tooth pain is often the cause of extensive decay that can only be alleviated with a root canal. 

Nearly 15 million people undergo root canal therapy annually. If you’re about to become one of them, you don’t need to worry. Despite its reputation for being painful, today’s advanced dental technology makes the root canal therapy procedure surprisingly easy and pain-free! 

Here’s everything you should know before you lay down in the dentist’s chair for your first root canal. 

What Is a Root Canal?

A root canal is a hollow section of the tooth that holds blood vessels, nerves, and pulp cells. The root canal therapy procedure earned its name based on the part of the tooth it repairs.  

The nerves held in the root canal area are responsible for creating hot and cold sensations, which explains why your sensitivity to hot and cold becomes so much worse around exposed nerves. The root canal’s blood vessels transport fresh blood rich in oxygen and nutrients, while the pulp nourishes and moisturizes its surroundings. 

All three components of the root canal serve vital purposes, so damage to any of them can spell disaster for the affected tooth. For example, if soft pulp tissue becomes inflamed or infected as a result of decay or trauma, it threatens the integrity of the entire tooth. Root canal therapy is performed to remove the infected pulp, stop the spread of infection, and give the damaged tooth a second chance.

4 Signs You Need Root Canal Therapy Now

A root canal isn’t always the best solution to dental pain, but it may be the right treatment for you if you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms. 

1. Excessive Sensitivity to Hot or Cold

It’s not unusual to feel a tinge of discomfort when you bite into an ice cream cone, but excessive sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures may indicate a more serious problem. If you experience those painful “zings” of sensitivity on a regular basis, and some last more than 30 seconds, it’s likely that your tooth has exposed nerve damage. Depending on the extend of nerve damage and exposure, a root canal may be the only way to alleviate your pain. 

2. Significant Discoloration of the Tooth

Healthy teeth are protected by white enamel. If a tooth starts showing significant discoloration compared to surrounding teeth, it may be entering the final stages of decay. A grey or black tooth has to be saved quickly using a root canal to preserve what remains and prevent full extraction. 

3. Chronic Jaw Pain

Tooth damage is also known to trigger serious pain when you apply pressure to your jaw and gums. If you are suffering from ongoing headaches, ear pain, jaw discomfort, and tooth pain, a severe dental issue like an infection is most likely the root cause. A root canal is the only procedure that can fully remove the infected tissue to eliminate the source of pain and prevent future tooth death. 

4. Swollen, Tender Gums

Inflammation is one of the most common indicators of dental problems, including an infection within the tooth that may require a root canal. You can identify inflammation of the gums by common symptoms like pain, swelling, and a raised bump in the painful area.

How Is Root Canal Therapy Performed?

Now that you’ve confirmed you need a root canal procedure to save your tooth and prevent extraction, it’s helpful to understand the steps of a root canal procedure. In four simple steps, your dentist removes the damaged, compromised parts of your tooth in order to salvage what remains and protect your full smile. 

1. Clean the Root Canal Space

After your dentist has administered a local anesthetic to numb all pain, he will isolate the tooth in need of a root canal to keep it clean and protected from saliva. You won’t feel anything as your dentist makes a small opening in the crown of your tooth to clean and remove the dead or diseased pulp tissue inside. 

You may wonder how it’s possible for your tooth to survive without its inner tissue. Though growing teeth rely on the pulp tissue for nourishment, fully developed teeth can survive by pulling essential nutrients from other surrounding tissues. 

2. Fill the Root Canal With Gutta Percha

Once all signs of infected pulp are gone, your dentist will replace the pulp tissue, nerves, and blood vessels with a biocompatible material like gutta percha. This rubber-like material safely fills the empty space in the root canal area and protects your tooth in the future. 

3. Strengthen the Tooth With a Crown or Filling

Once the gutta percha is placed, an adhesive is used to seal the root canal closed. THis is followed by a filling or crown to strengthen the tooth. Though your tooth is technically “dead” at this point, it can still remain in your mouth and serve its most important purposes of helping you chew and talk. Since all infection has been removed and painful, exposed nerves are gone, you’ll be liberated from the pain that tooth once caused. 

Don’t Wait to Schedule Your Root Canal

Procrastination is the enemy, especially when it comes to your dental health. The sooner you address a troublesome tooth, the easier your treatment and recovery process will be. 

Remember, a root canal procedure makes it possible to save a tooth that would otherwise die and be extracted. When you turn to your Long Beach dentist for a root canal, he’ll remove dangerous inflammation, prevent the development of abscesses, and keep your tooth firmly in place. With proper care, any tooth that undergoes a root canal treatment can last the rest of your life!

Dr. Steven Pakiz has been providing premier dental services to the residents of Long Beach, CA since 1993. You can trust Dr. Pakiz to carefully perform the root canal procedure you need to save your smile and escape terrible pain. Request an appointment online today or call (562) 454-0344 to learn more.