General – Root Canal Therapy
If you’re in the Burlington, Massachusetts area and need a root canal or other emergency dental care, let the professional, friendly staff at the Super Smiles dentistry near you help get you smiling again. Dr. Emilie Miller and her highly trained team of dental experts specialize in making you comfortable and pain-free. They’ll help you relax and relieve any fear or apprehension you may have by talking you through the process and by using state-of-the-art techniques and procedures.
What Is a Root Canal?
Occasionally, one of your teeth can become cracked which allows bacteria to enter it and form an infection. A root canal treatment is a procedure designed to save your natural tooth by eliminating the infection within it. It’s very similar to getting a filling, but deeper. Instead of removing decayed material on the surface, or closer to the surface of the tooth, a root canal removes the infected tissue within the tooth, called pulp.
Root canal treatment, while a serious and sometimes lifesaving procedure, is very common and millions are performed every year. It’s an incredibly effective procedure and is almost completely pain-free. Most discomfort is usually reported after the procedure is complete, once the anesthetic has worn off.
When and Why Would I Need a Root Canal?
A root canal treatment is needed if your tooth’s nerve or pulp has become infected or inflamed, or if an abscess has formed beneath the roots of your tooth. An abscess is a pocket of pus which forms when the infection from the tooth spreads. Many things can cause a tooth infection, but the underlying issue always starts with a crack or chip in the tooth which allows bacteria to enter.
What Are the Symptoms of an Infected Tooth?
Some signs to look for if you think your tooth may be infected include severe pain or discomfort while chewing or biting, but other symptoms may include:
- Darkening of the gums
- Swollen and/or sensitive gums
- Pimple-like appearance on the gums
- Extreme sensitivity to hot or cold food and beverages
- A broken, cracked, or chipped tooth
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, please schedule an appointment as soon as possible before the infection gets worse and requires more extreme medical attention.
What’s Involved in a Root Canal Treatment?
Root canal treatments are generally done over the course of two visits, much like a crown procedure and for similar reasons. This step by step walkthrough will explain the entire procedure:
- Dr. Miller’s team will take x-rays of the infected area and Dr. Miller will look them over.
- After Dr. Miller has determined which tooth requires treatment, she’ll numb the local area and protect it from saliva during the procedure using a device called a dental dam.
- Dr. Miller will next create an opening in the tooth which will enable her to use very small, special tools to clean the pulp chamber and root canals. She’ll also shape the opening for filling at the same time.
- Next, she’ll clean out the infected pulp and prepare the tooth for filling.
- After the tooth has been cleaned out of infected pulp, she’ll fill it back in with a rubber-like substance called gutta-percha.
- Once the gutta-percha is in place, she’ll cap the opening she created with a temporary cement which will be removed on your next visit.
- This step takes place on your next visit when Dr. Miller will install a crown to protect the tooth and restore your ability to bite and chew naturally.
What Happens After a Root Canal Treatment?
After your treatment, your tooth and gums may still be sensitive from the infection, as well as from the procedure. Until the permanent crown has been placed on your return visit, you should try to avoid using the tooth for chewing. Your tooth may also be very sensitive to hot and cold food and beverages.
The numbness from the anesthetic should wear off a couple of hours after the treatment and you should have no trouble going about your normal daily activities, like work or school, afterward.
Caring for your teeth after a root canal treatment is the same oral hygiene regimen recommended by dentists everywhere: brushing your teeth with a toothpaste containing fluoride, flossing, and using an antibacterial mouthwash daily. You should also continue to receive routine cleanings, but if your tooth begins to feel more sensitive than usual, make an appointment sooner to have it checked.