What is a Root Canal?

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If any dental procedure needs a new publicist (in Hollywood lingo), it would be the root canal. Root canals should be celebrated, as they allow the patient to keep a natural tooth that either is riddled with extensive decay or serious damage and is in danger of needing extraction. Instead, root canals are feared as if they are a form of medieval torture. In reality, a root canal with Dr. Frey is no more painful than having a typical filling placed in a tooth. For your convenience, Dr. Frey performs his root canals, so that his patients don’t need to schedule a procedure with a separate endodontist. To understand what is involved with a root canal, it helps to know what makes up your teeth. A tooth has an outer layer, the enamel, which covers the entire visible portion of the tooth. Beneath the enamel is another hard layer, called the dentin. Inside the dentin is the pulp. The pulp is the interior of the tooth, where you’ll find the blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. The pulp extends from the crown of the tooth (the part above the gum line) down to the tip of the roots. The root canals are aptly named, as the roots run through them. Whether due to decay, a deep crack, large fillings, or even trauma, the pulp can become infected or inflamed. Now the tooth is in danger. Saving it will require cleaning out the pulp chamber into the roots — a root canal.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How long will I be able to keep my tooth after it has had a root canal?

If the procedure is performed correctly, patients can keep their teeth indefinitely. This procedure needs a highly skilled trained dentist to perform successfully.

Is a tooth sometimes not able to be saved by a root canal?

A dentist needs to asses if your tooth is savable before performing a root canal procedure. The dentist will take an X-ray and look at the condition of the tooth. Its important to know this before trying to save the tooth.

How long will my root canal procedure take?

A root canal on a molar usually takes about 60-90 minutes. After your root canal procedure is finished, a dental crown is typically placed over the tooth for protection.

Do I need general anesthesia for a root canal?

Root canals with are usually performed under local anesthesia. We can provide sedation, if you choose, to help you relax. Just ask!

Do root canals hurt?

The term root canal sends terror into many people. If you are properly numbed with local anesthetic, it should be as comfortable as removing decay and placing a filling. During the procedure you should feel nothing. Afterwards, you may have some soreness,

What is endodontic treatment?

How is a root canal performed?

Root canals with our Perfect White Smile dentist usually requires one or two appointments. During the first appointment, we would first numbs the tooth and the surrounding tissues so you won’t feel a thing. If you’re nervous about it, we’ll provide sedation to ease your anxiety. Next a small hole is drilled in the crown of the tooth to gain access to the pulp. Through that hole, we will use very small files to clean out the entire pulp cavity and root canals. We removes all of the decayed connective tissue, blood vessels, and nerves. The entire pulp cavity is cleaned out and then thoroughly disinfected with sodium hypochlorite.

The now-empty tooth is then filled with a rubber-based material, called gutta-percha. The tooth is sealed with adhesive cement and the entry hole is closed with a regular composite dental filling. If the tooth is small, such as an front tooth, this may be sufficient and the procedure is complete. In most cases, however, you will want to place a crown on the tooth to protect it, provide strength, and return function. If a crown is required, we take high tech digital impressions of the tooth and send it off to a dental lab to fabricate the crown. When it is finished, you return and we place the crown in permanently.

When is a root canal necessary?

When the pulp of a tooth becomes infected or inflamed you’ll know. That tooth will be very sensitive to hot and cold and linger in pain for a while, it may hurt  biting, even to a gust of cool air. The surrounding gums can be swollen. The tooth may become discolored. The pain can be intense and not go away. It may wake you up in the middle of the night.

Sometimes the patient won’t have any idea there is a problem with the tooth, but a routine x-ray will show it. This is another reason keeping your twice-yearly exams and cleanings. lol

Should you choose not to have your tooth treated - an extraction may be your only other choice.

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