Root canals are restorative endodontic procedures used to restore severely damaged or decayed teeth. They become necessary when decay-causing bacteria reaches the dental pulp and causes inflammation inside the tooth. This is known as a pulpitis and it can only be treated using a root canal treatment. During a root canal, the decayed tissue is removed from the inside of the tooth in order to prevent the tooth from being lost.
Although root canals are commonly associated with pain, they are actually responsible for alleviating the pain. The pain you feel leading up to and following a root canal is actually caused by the inflammation inside the tooth. Once the infection has been removed, the inflammation will resolve itself and the pain will fade.
You may need a root canal if you are experiencing symptoms such as sudden or severe tooth pain, pain while chewing, progressive pain, a discolored tooth, tooth sensitivity, or problems with the gums such as redness, swelling, discharge, or pimples. However, not every pulp infection produces symptoms. Asymptomatic cases of pulpitis are generally diagnosed from looking at dental x-rays during a routine exam. If you are experiencing symptoms, you should schedule a consultation with Dr. Alina Huang DDS at your Midtown Manhattan dental office today to determine if you have a pulp infection in need of root canal treatment.
During a root canal, you can expect to be anesthetized. Once you are relaxed and numb, your dentist will drill a tiny hole into your tooth to reach the pulp chamber. Then, they will use a variety of specialized root canal files to remove the decayed tissue from the entire pulp chamber and root canals. Once all the decayed tissue has been removed, the empty chamber and root canals will be flushed with an antimicrobial solution to minimize the chances of future infection.
After the infection has been removed, the next step is to restore the tooth. The first step to restoring the tooth is to fill the pulp chamber and root canals with a rubber-like material called gutta percha. In some cases, a small metal post may also be inserted into the tooth to provide additional stabilization. Then, composite resin is used to fill in the access hole. Finally, a temporary crown will be placed over the tooth to protect it until the permanent crown has been completed. In most cases, you will have to return once the tooth has healed to have your permanent crown placed.
After a root canal, you may experience some residual soreness from the inflammation. This is especially the case if you were in pain prior to the procedure. Although the infection has been removed during the root canal, it usually takes a few days for the resulting inflammation to subside. During this time, your dentist may instruct you to use over the counter pain medications or other methods to manage any discomfort.
You will also be fit with a temporary dental crown to wear until your permanent crown can be placed. Since temporary crowns are not as strong as permanent crowns, you will need to be careful not to damage or dislodge the crown. This means temporarily avoiding excessively hard, chewy, crunchy, or sticky foods and chewing on the opposite side of your mouth.
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