Teeth that are inflamed, infected, cracked or traumatized will typically require endodontic therapy, more commonly known as a root canal.
Root Canal Dentist in Calgary
When a tooth nerve becomes irreversibly inflamed or infected, a root canal treatment might be recommended to help you heal.
Before booking your root canal treatment, you should know about the procedure and what to expect before, during and after.
If you are experiencing severe tooth pain or have been told that you need a root canal, please contact our office for an evaluation.
What Is A Root Canal?
Root canals are the space inside the hard layers of each of your teeth.
Within each canal, there is a bundle of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue that help the teeth to grow and develop. This bundle, called pulp, can become inflamed or infected leading to pain and sensitivity to biting and temperature changes.
Normally, the dental pulp is protected by hard layers of dentin and enamel, but deep decay or fractures due to biting or other trauma can injure the pulp and allow bacteria to enter the chamber.
Root Canal vs. Crown
Typically during a root canal treatment, the dentist uses local anesthesia to ensure patient comfort, and the pulp inside the tooth is removed.
We then clean and shape the void inside the affected tooth and fill is with a material called gutta-percha.
Almost all teeth that have root canal therapy will require a crown to prevent the tooth from fracturing.
Root canal treatments are usually done in one to two visits. Each visit can last up to one and a half hours, depending on your situation.
When a patient is recommended for a root canal treatment, it is likely because an x-ray showed signs of dental infection around the root of the tooth or because their nerve is irreversibly damaged or has died which can sometimes result in pain and swelling.
This means that other forms of treatment have been ruled out by your dentist.
Root Canal Treatment Steps
Root Canals Are Safe and Gentle
Though the pain may subside after the first visit for a root canal, it’s important to finish the procedure to avoid further infection.
Root canals have gained an unfair reputation with patients.
A dentist may recommend a root canal to a patient after weighing different treatment options. Sometimes, there’s no way around a root canal when it comes to the damaged dental pulp, and ignoring the problem will only result in pain and potential worsening of tooth decay or infection.
The only case where you are not suitable for a root canal is if you have experienced a significant bone loss or decay that makes your tooth not suitable for a crown. If this is the case, our dentists can recommend alternative treatments for you.
The cost of a root canal varies from case to case and includes factors, such as, which tooth needs to be treated and how many canals the pulp has.
A tooth should recover to full usage after a successful root canal procedure and recovery.
Other alternatives are available such as tooth extraction, and root irrigation but these alternatives may be more invasive or won’t provide the same long-term solutions as a root canal. An implant may also be an option that your dentist can discuss with you.
Root canal treatments are typically more cost-effective than tooth removal, followed by a crown procedure.
Post-treatment care for a root canal is relatively straight-forward.
Over-the-counter pain medications may be used to help regulate pain, or stronger pain medication may be prescribed if needed.
In either case, it’s important for patients to closely follow medication instructions and note these medications could make them drowsy.
Tenderness may last for a few days after a root canal.
A few things to notice include swelling in the gums, or if your bite feels uneven.
You should contact your dentist if you have any questions or experience severe pain for more than a few days.
Sierra Dental accepts new patients and takes pride in doing our best to provide comfortable root canal procedures to our patients.
Frequently Asked Questions
Your first visit is typically an endodontic evaluation. This includes 1 or more X-rays, a discussion about any symptoms you may be experiencing, specific testing of the teeth in the area and discussion about possible treatments, including their advantages and disadvantages.
If your dentist thinks root canal therapy is a good solution to treat your tooth, a typical appointment will last 60 – 90 minutes, depending on the complexity of your tooth.
Following a root canal, roughly half of the people will experience no pain, while the other half will experience mild-moderate pain that they can manage with over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. About 5% of people experience moderate-severe pain and require prescription medications. Please call any time with questions or concerns about your treatment.
Lastly, all teeth will require a buildup (commonly known as a filling) to close the hole created to remove the nerve. Most teeth will require a crown after a root canal, so it is important that you see your dentist shortly after your treatment is completed. Delay of this process may result in the tooth breaking, so this procedure should not be delayed. Studies show that teeth that are restored within 2 weeks of root canal treatment have the highest success rates.
After your final root canal treatment, the tooth may be sensitive for a few days. You should:
- Avoid biting down on hard or sticky foods.
- Take over-the-counter painkillers if you experience some pain or swelling
- If this persists passed a few days or becomes more severe, you should contact your dentist as soon as possible.
You should maintain excellent oral hygiene habits to avoid the need for further treatment. This includes brushing at least twice daily, flossing daily, avoiding sugary or acidic food and drink, not smoking, and seeing your dentist for regular cleanings.
If you find it hard to sleep, you can adjust your environment accordingly by:
- Making the room completely dark and cool.
- Listening to relaxing music or sounds so your thoughts can drift without trying too hard to sleep.
- Breathing in and out gently to loosen stiff body parts.
Avoid focusing on the pain or discomfort, as this may cause stress, which may make it harder to sleep.
Crowns Are Required to Prevent Tooth Fracture
When a root canal treatment is performed, the dentist creates an access hole through the top of the tooth to ensure the inner pulp can be expertly removed. This process helps to remove any leftover nerve tissue but also hollows out the tooth structure. The hollow tooth structure then becomes more susceptible to fractures over time. By placing a crown on the tooth, the dentist can tie the cusps together and ensure the tooth is much less likely to fracture during day-to-day activities.
Crowns Can Help To Prevent the Failure of the Root Canal
After going through a challenging oral care treatment such as a root canal, the last thing a patient wants is to go for more treatment in the immediate days afterward. However, they may have to if the root canal treatment fails. A root canal may fail if contaminants from the mouth find their way through the dental restoration and into the tooth, potentially causing infection and other dental issues. Crowns can be used to help prevent the failure of the root canal by stopping contaminants from entering the tooth initially, allowing the restoration time to heal. A qualified dentist working with a dental crown can help ensure root canal success and ensure the tooth is healed for the long-term.
In simple terms, a root canal procedure is required when a cavity has been left untreated too long. Cavity fillings are used to fill small holes in teeth in cases where the nerve has not yet been damaged or affected by the cavity. This treatment only takes one visit to your dentist and is rarely painful thanks to freezing.