Root Canal Treatment Abington & Jenkintown, PA
Root Canal in Abington, PA
No other dental procedure is surrounded by so much fear and misinformation than the root canal. Some people assume root canals are akin to medieval torture, while they actually are no more painful than getting a typical filling. Root canals should be celebrated because they allow a patient to keep a tooth that has extensive decay or other damage, rather than needing to have the tooth extracted and replaced by an implant or bridge.
At McDowell Dental Group, we perform our own root canals, saving our patients the hassle of going through a separate endodontist.
What is a root canal?
First a bit of tooth anatomy. Your teeth have three layers: the outer enamel layer that covers the entire visible part of the tooth; under the enamel is another hard layer called the dentin; and then inside the dentin is the pulp. In the pulp, you’ll find blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. The pulp extends from the upper tooth down to the tip of the roots. Where the roots run are called the root canals.
Sometimes the pulp becomes infected or inflamed. This can happen when decay penetrates the enamel and dentin, with a deep crack or chip, with repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or even from trauma. When infection enters the pulp, the tooth needs a root canal to remove everything inside the pulp chambers, clean and disinfect the tooth interior, and then fill the tooth.
When does a tooth need a root canal?
Most people know decay has invaded a tooth with fairly intense pain. There will also usually be sensitivity to hot and cold, tenderness when chewing, discoloration of the teeth, swelling or tenderness of the gum tissue surrounding the tooth, or you may develop pimples on the gums. Sometimes, however, a patient won’t feel any symptoms, but we can see the decay on x-rays during your twice-yearly exams/cleanings with us at McDowell Dental.
What happens if I don’t get a root canal?
A root canal saves a decayed and badly damaged tooth, but some patients are fearful of this procedure, so they put off treatment. This is a mistake. If the pulp is infected, the tissue surrounding the tooth may develop an abscess, a puss-filled pocket that extends up the roots of the tooth. If this happens, infection can spread throughout the body. Plus, the tooth will no longer be able to be saved and will require extraction.
How is a root canal done?
These are the steps involved in a root canal.
- 1) The tooth and surrounding tissue are numbed and a dental dam is placed to keep the area dry.
2) We drill a small hole in the crown of the infected tooth.
3) We insert very small files to clean out the entire pulp cavity and root canals, removing the pulp, decayed nerve tissues, and other debris.
4) We then flush the empty tooth with sodium hypochlorite to remove any last debris and kill any lingering bacteria.
5) The empty pulp chamber and root canals are then filled with a rubber-based material known as gutta-percha and sealed with adhesive cement.
6) We place a composite resin filling over the access hole.
7) In most cases, we then place a crown over the tooth to protect the weakened tooth and to return strength. If we need to place a crown (some teeth with a root canal don’t need a crown), we take measurements and send them to our CEREC system to create the porcelain crown in about 30 minutes in our office.
Are root canals painful?
People confuse the extreme pain they can experience from the infected tooth with the root canal procedure. Root canals with the team at McDowell Dental Group are no more painful than having a typical filling placed. Anesthesia ensures you’ll feel nothing during the procedure. Afterwards, you will have some soreness, mainly due to having your mouth open for a period of time. Plus, your surrounding tissues may still be reacting to the infection and need to calm down. But you need to remember that the root canal totally removed all the infected nerves, so there is no longer any feeling in the tooth.
How long will my tooth with the root canal last?
You would think than an empty tooth wouldn’t last very long, but that’s not true. You only need the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue in the tooth during growth and development. Once a tooth is fully mature it can survive without the pulp, as the surrounding tissues continue to nourish the tooth. A tooth that has had a root canal can often last the remainder of the patient’s life, assuming good home hygiene and regular professional exams.
Is there recovery after a root canal?
There isn’t any recovery. You may have some soreness for a day or so, but you can immediately use your tooth. It will feel dramatically better now that the infection and inflammation are gone.
Does it take an extra appointment if the tooth getting a root canal needs a crown?
Most teeth with root canals need a crown placed over the tooth to protect and strengthen it moving forward. At most practices this requires a second appointment, as impressions are made and sent off to a dental lab for fabrication of the crown. But at McDowell Dental Group, we use our CEREC system to make your crown within 30 minutes or so after we perform the root canal. This makes the entire process just a single appointment.
Do I need to come back for a follow-up appointment after my root canal?
We don’t require patients to come back in after a root canal. Only if you experience an acute pain would we want you to come back in. That could be a sign that infection is still present.