You’ve heard of “getting a root canal” before, but what does that mean?
Did you know you already have a root canal? Every tooth has its own root canal. The root canal houses living cells and connective tissue called the pulp. The pulp protects all the nerves and blood vessels that connect to the root of your tooth.
A root canal is completely normal. Getting root canal therapy is a little different.
Root canal therapy, medically referred to as endodontic therapy, is a procedure to help save your teeth from rotting out. It is usually necessary when a patient suffers from severe tooth decay. This form of dental care treats infection and inflammation formed in the tooth’s pulp.
When you suffer from infection or inflammation in the tooth’s pulp, you often experience immense pain and severe swelling, and you’re even at risk of losing the tooth or teeth in question.
The news is that root canal therapy has the power to…
Table of Contents
In this article, you will learn...
- The difference between a root canal and root canal therapy
- The anatomy of your teeth
- What causes root canal therapy
- What root canal therapy is and why it’s a great treatment option
- What to expect before, during and after your root canal treatment
- Root canal therapy prevention and next steps
And much, much more…
The Difference Between a Root Canal & Root Canal Therapy“I’m getting a root canal” As you now know, people usually refer to root canal therapy simply as a “root canal.” But you already have a root canal. As you’ll see below, your root canal is the part of your tooth that houses the tooth’s pulp, which is where all your sensitive nerves and blood vessels are stored. Your nerves and blood vessels are attached to the tooth’s root through the root canal. When these areas become compromised, tooth sensitivity is heightened. Before we cover what you should expect before, during, and after your root canal treatment, it’s helpful to understand the anatomy of your teeth. Keep reading to learn what makes up a tooth, how tooth decay affects each part of the tooth, and what stage of tooth decay results in needing root canal therapy.
Understanding the Anatomy of Your Teeth
Before we deep dive into the ins and outs of root canal treatment, it’s important for you to understand the anatomy of your teeth.
From the outside in, these are the main parts of your teeth:
Tooth decay, or a cavity, is the primary cause for needing root canal therapy. Tooth decay travels from the outside of your tooth into the center, towards the root. The deeper the decay, the more severe it is.
Read on to find out how each part of the tooth is affected in each step of tooth decay…
5 Main Stages of Tooth Decay
- White spots form on the surface of the tooth.
- Decay eats away at the enamel, diminishing it.
- The infection moves deeper toward the dentin.
- The pulp becomes affected, compromising the nerves.
- Decay reaches the root, forming a painful abscess.
Keep reading to understand which stage(s) of tooth decay might call for root canal therapy.
What Causes Root Canal Therapy?
Now you know that cavities and tooth decay cause you to need root canal therapy. But at what point is root canal therapy needed?
Root canal therapy might be necessary during tooth decay’s fourth or fifth final stages. At these stages, cavities are deep-rooted tooth decay that is extremely severe. Often, it’s uncomfortable and painful.
The closer the decay comes to the tooth’s root, the more likely you will need root canal therapy.
When decay reaches the tooth’s pulp, your dental care provider may prescribe this treatment to alleviate pain and save the teeth from extraction or falling out on their own. It also hinders the decay from progressing further.
Root canal therapy can help you…
- Save your smile in a natural way
- Increase the longevity of your teeth
- Improve your overall dental health
And much more!
Are you ready to learn what root canal therapy is and what you should expect from your treatment? Keep reading to find out now.
What is Root Canal Therapy?
Root canal therapy is a relatively painless procedure that can prevent you from losing your teeth. As an alternative to tooth extraction, this treatment allows you to keep living your everyday life without making significant changes to your diet or lifestyle.
During your root canal treatment, your dental healthcare provider will extract the pulp inside the tooth. This prevents the decay from spreading to the root and jeopardizes the tooth’s overall health.
Patients who undergo root canal therapy often do not need additional dental work on the affected tooth. Many live with it – and without pain – for the rest of their lives.
Now let’s look at what you can expect before, during, and after your root canal treatment.
Root Canal Therapy: What to Expect Before, During, and After
Before Your Root Canal Therapy
If you are experiencing significant pain or discomfort in your teeth, consult a dental professional immediately. Your dentist or endodontist will evaluate the state of your teeth. If they notice significant decay, they will make a professional recommendation.
Your two main treatment options are:
- Tooth extraction
- Root canal therapy
In general, root canal therapy is often less painful and more cost-effective. Plus, it’s a more natural way to treat decay. After root canal therapy, your teeth will look and feel just about the same, but you’ll be in much less pain.
If you and your dental health care provider decide root canal therapy is the right path, you will schedule a follow-up appointment for your procedure.
Now let’s look at what to expect during your root canal therapy.
During Your Root Canal Therapy
The good news about root canal treatments is that they are relatively painless, and the recovery time is significantly shorter than a tooth extraction.
During your treatment, you will most likely undergo anesthesia so that you don’t experience much pain. At this time, your dentist or endodontist will extract the pulp from the tooth in question.
Then, they will disinfect, clean, and re-shape the root canal where the pulp used to be. After cleaning the canal, they fill the space with a filling.
Your root canal appointment will typically take 90 minutes. Depending on the severity of your case, you may need to schedule a second appointment to continue treatment.
After Your Root Canal Therapy
Upon leaving your treatment, your dentist will send you instructions to care for your tooth. If you underwent anesthesia, you will likely feel numbness in your mouth. Wait to eat until your feeling returns, so you don’t accidentally harm your sensitive teeth.
It’s normal to feel sensations in the affected area for a while after the treatment. But if you experience extreme pain, contact a dental professional immediately.
Remember to keep brushing and flossing your teeth as usual.
As a rule of thumb, schedule a follow-up appointment with your dentist to ensure everything is healing as it should be.
Root Canal Therapy Prevention & Next Steps
If your tooth decay presents itself in the early stages, affecting the surface and enamel of your teeth, you may be able to reverse its progression by regular brushing and flossing. But if you’re showing signs of late stages of tooth decay, you may need root canal therapy.
Want to ensure your teeth are healthy in the long run?
The dental professionals at Apple Springs Family Dentistry, located in Williamson County, Texas, can help you with that. Call us to schedule your appointment now.