Root canal therapy is needed when the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection. Visit Dr. Crowell and Dr. Southwood if you are in Edmonton and have a toothache.Request An Appointment
What is a root canal?
When the interior pulp of a tooth becomes infected, it can be very painful. If left untreated, the tooth may eventually die, and need to be pulled.
A root canal is performed in order to save the tooth. The pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth), nerves, bacteria, and any decay are removed and the resulting space is filled with dental materials.
Signs & Symptoms
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may need a root canal.
- An abscess (or pimple) on the gums.
- Sensitivity to hot and cold.
- Severe toothache pain.
- Sometimes no symptoms are present.
- Swelling and/or tenderness.
What does root canal therapy involve?
A root canal procedure requires one or more appointments and can be performed by a general dentist or endodontist (a root canal specialist).
While the tooth is numb, an access opening is made on top of the tooth and a series of root canal files are placed into the opening, one at a time, removing the pulp, nerve tissue, and bacteria. If tooth decay is present, it will also be removed with special dental instruments.
Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, it will be sealed with either a permanent filling or, if additional appointments are needed, a temporary filling will be placed. In addition, all teeth that have root canal treatment should have a crown (cap) placed. This will protect the tooth and prevent it from breaking.
You will be given care instructions after each appointment. Good oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your root canal treatment.
Recovering From a Root Canal
You may experience some mild to moderate discomfort during the recovery process, but this should resolve within a few days.
In the meantime, any pain can be managed with over-the-counter pain killers like ibuprofen (Advil or Motrin) or acetaminophen (Tylenol). You should also avoid chewing on the tooth until all of the tenderness is gone to promote healing.
Teeth that have been treated with root canals are fragile and prone to breakage. A dental crown is therefore usually placed to properly protect teeth that will undergo heavy chewing forces. This particularly applies to the posterior teeth (bicuspids and molars) in the back of the mouth.
With regular dental hygiene and proper care, your root canal-treated tooth will likely remain healthy and strong for many years.