Root canal treatment is a common dental procedure that is performed to save a damaged or infected tooth. The procedure involves removing the infected or damaged pulp (the soft tissue inside the tooth that contains nerves and blood vessels), cleaning the inside of the tooth, and filling and sealing it. This procedure can often prevent the need for a tooth extraction.
Our San Diego dentist might recommend a root canal if you have an abscess, a severely deep area of tooth decay, or a cracked tooth. Before getting a root canal, there are a few things you should know to prepare for the procedure and ensure a successful outcome.
What Do I Need to Know Before a Root Canal Appointment?
First, you’ll want to understand the indications for root canal treatment. A root canal is typically recommended when the pulp inside the tooth becomes inflamed or infected. This can be caused by a deep cavity, a crack or chip in the tooth, or trauma to the tooth. If left untreated, the infection can spread and lead to further damage or even an abscess (a painful infection at the end of the tooth’s root).
Without a root canal, these compromised teeth would otherwise need to be extracted and then later replaced with something like a bridge or dental implant.
Planning for Your Procedure
How many sittings does a root canal need? It typically takes one to two visits to complete a root canal. The first visit is to remove the infected or damaged pulp and place a permanent filling material inside the hollow nerve chambers. At the second visit, a crown is placed over that tooth to reinforce and protect it during everyday biting and chewing activities.
Root canal treatment (often referred to as RCT) may require additional visits if the infection is severe. If that’s the case, our San Diego dentist may need to prescribe medication that helps limit swelling for a more comfortable procedure.
Rest assured that having a root canal is similar to other routine dental procedures. Knowing what to expect can help you feel more confident about your upcoming treatment. Root canal treatment is typically performed under local anesthesia to numb the area around the infected tooth. Then our dentist will make a small opening in the top of the tooth to access the pulp chamber and root canals. The infected or damaged pulp is removed, and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and disinfected. A rubber-like material is then placed in the canals to seal them off and prevent recurring infection. You may feel some pressure during the procedure, but it should not be painful. However, sedation may also be available if you prefer deeper relaxation during your appointment.
How Long Does it Take for a Root Canal to Fully Heal?
After the root canal procedure, the area around the tooth may be slightly sore for a few days, particularly where the anesthetic was injected. Fortunately, the source of your tooth pain and infection has been removed, so there are no longer any nerves to interpret discomfort inside of your tooth. An over-the-counter pain medication to manage any temporary irritation and can be accompanied by a warm salt water rinse. It is important to follow the post-operative instructions provided by our dentist to promote healing and reduce the risk of complications.
While you wait for your permanent crown, be sure to avoid hard or crunchy foods and follow good oral hygiene practices, such as brushing and flossing, to keep the area clean. After your permanent crown is installed, you can resume your normal diet and daily activities.
Do I Need a Root Canal?
Fifth Avenue Dental Arts offers gentle root canal treatment in San Diego. If you have an abscessed tooth or would like a second opinion about getting a root canal, call our office today