Root canal treatment is relatively common, but it still suffers from a lot of bad press based on plenty of misconceptions about what root canal is, what it does, and how much discomfort it causes. Many of those concerns are no longer valid. Here are some positive aspects of a root canal treatment at Bunker Hill Dentistry: Pain relief – We can tailor pain management for every patient’s needs (and anxiety levels) with local anesthesia, nitrous oxide (laughing gas) and anti-anxiety medications. With effective relief, the procedure will be painless. Serene setting – Our office is designed to provide a calm, relaxing environment to help put your mind at ease during treatment. Fast treatment – Lots of root canals take place in a single visit. Just think of it as a longer filling procedure. Specialists – Your procedure will be carried out by a dentist experienced in endodontic treatments. More comfortable recovery – State-of-the-art techniques mean there’s less tissue damage and swelling after your treatment. Over-the-counter pain medicine is all you’ll need to relieve any minor discomfort. What is a Root Canal Treatment? Some cavities and other types of tooth damage occur in the outer layers of your tooth material. When the cavity or other damage is not treated, it can develop, through the enamel and dentin, and reach the “pulp” portion of your tooth where your nerves are located at around 10 mm deep. This creates a direct highway for the bacteria in your mouth to infect the nerves in the tooth pulp. Extraction used to be the only solution, but today, state-of-the-art root canal treatment can help you save your tooth while getting rid of the interior damage. In a root canal, the damaged and infected pulp part of your tooth is removed, and the space is filled with a special material. In most cases, a crown is placed over your tooth to provide additional protection. Today’s root canal treatments use special techniques and technology, preserving as much of the healthy tooth as possible while also reducing discomfort during the procedure. Why Get a Root Canal Treatment? A root canal is an endodontic procedure, which means it’s performed to treat the inside portion of your tooth. More than 41,000 root canals are performed each day in the U.S., according to the American Association of Endodontists — that’s a total of over 15 million procedures every year. The primary reason to get a root canal is to save a badly damaged tooth so you avoid the need for tooth removal — and a costly implant afterward. But a root canal isn’t just affordable — it’s also an important part of preserving your oral health for the long term. By preserving the natural tooth, you also maintain your normal bite balance, which is important for avoiding issues like jaw pain and future tooth loss. Of course, a root canal will also provide effective, long-lasting pain relief in the damaged tooth. The best part: After your root canal, your tooth will look and “work” just like it did before it was damaged, and with proper care, your tooth will last as long as any other tooth. Signs & Symptoms You May Need a Root Canal Tooth pain isn’t always a sign that you need a root canal. Sometimes, a toothache can be caused by other problems, like: Gum infection or abscess Cuts or lacerations Impacted teeth Superficial cavities Lodged foreign objects Bite-related problems or poor alignment In those instances, other treatment options are available to relieve pain and improve the way your tooth functions. If you need a root canal, you’re more likely to have symptoms like: Persistent pain deep inside your tooth Pain that spreads to your jaw or other areas of your face Pain that’s worse when chewing or biting Tooth sensitivity to cold or heat Swollen gums Pain when you touch your tooth Symptoms associated with a chipped or cracked tooth or a loose or old filling Tooth discoloration (typically only occurring when the nerves have “died”) While any tooth can become infected, these deep infections tend to occur most often in a back tooth or molar, where most of the chewing action takes place. The Root Canal Procedure: What to Expect Before and After The first step in treatment is to have an X-ray of the tooth to show the size and shape of the canal. The X-ray can also help determine if there’s an infection in the bone surrounding the tooth. Next, your tooth is completely numbed, and if you’re especially nervous, you may have a mild anesthetic to help you stay calm and relaxed. The dentist uses a special drill to make a small channel into the pulp portion of your tooth. The infected pulp is extracted along with any damaged tooth material and a series of tiny files are used to clean out the canal and prepare it for filling. A high resolution microscope with maximum light transmission allows dentists to identify and extract the infected pulp quickly. Once the canal is clean, it’s sealed and filled. If the area is infected, you might receive a medicated filling to destroy bacteria. The medicated filling stays in place for a week before being replaced by a regular root canal filling. Typically, a crown is placed on the tooth at a subsequent visit, once the area has recovered. Your treatment will be tailored specifically for your needs. Most root canal procedures take about 90 minutes. After your procedure, you’ll probably have some discomfort, just as you would after many types of dental treatments. Most symptoms go away within a day or so, and until then, they can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers and an ice pack to relieve swelling. You should also avoid hard, crunchy, chewy or very hot foods for the first day or so while initial healing takes place. We’ll provide you with complete care instructions before you leave our office. Effectiveness and Complications Rarely, a tooth treated with a root canal may get reinfected, most often around the tip of the tooth root. This typically happens when the infected material is not completely removed or when the cavity is not properly sealed and filled. Fortunately, in the rare instances when an infection recurs, a second procedure can be performed to eradicate it. At Bunker Hill Dentistry, we use the most advanced methods of treatment to make sure the canal is completely free and clear of infection, then we carefully seal the canal and fill it to prevent bacteria from entering. Of course, you’ll still need to do your part to care for your tooth and crown with proper brushing and flossing and routine dental checkups. With good care, you can expect your tooth to last a lifetime. Am I a Good Candidate for Root Canal Treatment? Today’s root canal treatment is generally safe for just about any patient who requires it, including most pregnant women and children. Please discuss any concerns you may have with Dr. Le during the consultation. How to Prevent a Root Canal Like any type of tooth decay or infection, the best way to avoid needing a root canal is to make sure you properly care for your teeth so you avoid deep infections. That means: Brushing twice a day for two minutes at a time, using the right technique Using a soft-bristled brush to reach all the tooth surfaces Flossing at least once each day Rinsing your mouth after meals — especially sugary snacks Avoiding sugary or sticky foods that provide plenty of food for cavity-causing bacteria Adding foods high in calcium, like cheese and other dairy products Having routine dental checkups and cleanings every six months It’s also important to know if you have risk factors for oral health problems, like diabetes which may increase your risk of decay and infections. And of course, if you have any symptoms of tooth pain, bleeding gums, or other issues, it’s very important to call the office and make an appointment right away. Ignoring your symptoms and leaving them untreated allows minor issues to become major problems, and that means you’re more likely to need a root canal or other more complex treatment. State-of-the-Art Root Canal in Memorial City, Houston If you need a root canal or any type of dental or medical procedure, it’s natural to be a little nervous. At Bunker Hill Dentistry, our team will work with you to develop a pain management plan that’s optimized for your needs, so you can feel confident and comfortable through every step of your care. Don’t let deep decay or tooth nerve damage rob you of your beautiful smile. With a root canal, you can preserve it. To learn more about root canal treatment or other services (see our full suite of general dentistry services), give us a call at 832-834-5281 and schedule a consultation visit today. Schedule An Appointment Not been to Bunker Hill Dentistry before? Read how to prepare for your first visit in our FAQs.