A root canal procedure allows you to keep your tooth after it’s become partially decayed (cavities), damaged, or infected. An alternative to this treatment is tooth removal/extraction. As dentists, we try our best to avoid tooth extraction unless it’s the best treatment option for the patient.
Under the enamel and dentin layers of your teeth, there’s pulp, which is in the root canals of the tooth. If bacteria get into this pulp, it causes infection and tissue breakdown—not to mention pain. During a root canal, a hole is made in the tooth to reach this pulp layer, which is then cleaned out, disinfected, and filled back in. This prevents bacteria from getting back into the tooth and allows the tooth to continue being nourished by the gums.
Signs that you might need a root canal procedure include pain when eating, teeth being sensitive to hot/cold, inflamed gums, dark coloration or the gums, foul tastes in the mouth, bad breath, or damage to the tooth.
If you’re nervous about an upcoming root canal or extraction procedure, please know that our experienced and trusted team will do everything they can to make you feel comfortable. It’s important that you don’t avoid the dentist because leaving these problems unresolved can lead to more serious complications.
Your dentist will start by taking X-rays of your mouth in order to provide a proper diagnosis and treatment plan. Once a treatment plan is made, we will take time to discuss the recommended procedure with you and answer any questions you may have.
Typically, a root canal and tooth extraction can be completed in one appointment (with a follow up appointment in following days/weeks). There are cases though that may require us to refer you to a specialist – an oral surgeon or endodontist. We have built strong relationships with these doctors and trust them with our patients so you can rest easy knowing you’ll be in good hands.
Since local anesthesia is used to numb the affected area, there usually isn’t much pain after a root canal or tooth extraction. There can be some residual inflammation or soreness, especially if there was an infection. This can usually be treated/relieved with combination therapy using Ibuprofen and Acetaminophen.
After a tooth extraction, you should avoid disturbing the socket while it heals. Swishing, sucking through straws, exercising/vigorous activity, and smoking should all be avoided after a tooth extraction because they can cause a dry socket, which is painful and slows down the recovery process.
Our dentists will provide you written and oral communication on post-procedure instructions. Please call our office if you have any questions or concerns.