Root Canal Therapy Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
At Spring Lake Dental, our team wants you to feel comfortable and confident in your procedure. Below, find some of the most frequently asked questions (FAQ) about root canal therapy. Please call our Spring Lake, NC office with any other questions and concerns about your dental health or upcoming procedure.
When do you need a root canal?
A root canal treatment may be necessary to correct extensive tooth damage or decay. Some of the most common signs that might signal the need for a root canal include:
- Severe oral pain
- Gum swelling, tenderness, or bumps
- Extreme sensitivity to hot and cold
- Darkened color of the gums
- Tooth chips or cracks
- Abscess in the jawbone
If you experience any of these symptoms, tell your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist will determine whether a root canal is necessary during your consultation appointment. X-rays may be required to diagnose the cause of your dental issue and determine the best treatment.
Are You Seeking Relief from a Painful or Sensitive Tooth?
Contact us with any questions or to schedule an appointment.
Why should I get a root canal versus a tooth extraction?
Though both treatments correct damage and decay in teeth, a root canal differs from a tooth extraction in several distinct ways. The big difference between a root canal and a tooth extraction is that a root canal saves your tooth, whereas a tooth extraction gets rid of your tooth. Extractions are necessary if a tooth is severely decayed or damaged, but root canal therapy is often the best option if the tooth is still healthy.
In a root canal, your dentist will make a small hole in the tooth that lets them clean out the dead and decaying pulp and fill the canal space with biocompatible dental sealant. The material seals your canal and protects it from infection. Since the procedure preserves your natural tooth, there is no need for an artificial replacement crown.
Are there alternatives to root canal treatment?
Yes, there are several alternative treatments for a root canal. But every case is different, and the best treatment for you depends on many factors, including your general health history, dental health, and personal preferences. During your consultation, your dentist will walk you through the treatment options available, such as:
Direct Pulp Capping
When severe tooth decay exposes the pulp, direct pulp capping is an option that may allow you to avoid the need for a root canal or extraction down the road by covering the exposure and filling the tooth. Direct pulp capping is only available when rot causes minimal exposure to the healthy pulp. Direct pulp capping is not usually possible if the pulp shows signs of deterioration or inflammation.
A pulpotomy procedure is an alternative treatment option when direct pulp capping is impossible. A pulpotomy serves to remove the inflamed pulp to preserve a tooth’s nerve and root canals. The treatment is most effective for children with baby teeth or undeveloped adult teeth.
In a dental emergency, adults may undergo a pulpotomy to temporarily relieve pain in the interim before a root canal procedure. If the pulp shows signs of infection or severe damage, tooth extraction may be necessary.
Tooth extraction is the last alternative if a tooth is too severely damaged or decayed to repair. Unlike a root canal, extractions require a replacement of the missing tooth with an artificial crown. Your dentist or oral surgeon will loosen and remove the damaged or decaying tooth before cleaning and sanitizing the area in a tooth extraction procedure.
Does getting a root canal hurt?
Root canal procedures have a bad reputation, but the basis for this is severely out-of-date. The fact is, in modern dentistry, root canal therapy does not hurt at all. We use a local anesthetic to ensure that you will not feel any pain during your root canal procedure.
Once the anesthetic wears off after your procedure, you may feel slight discomfort around the surgical area. You can easily manage pain with ice packs, heat, and over-the-counter ibuprofen. We will provide you with all the necessary aftercare information before you leave your procedure appointment.
How long does root canal treatment take?
A root canal usually takes a single appointment to complete, but complex cases may require two visits to our office. The procedure takes 60 to 90 minutes on average, and patients are given a local anesthetic to ensure a comfortable and pain-free procedure.
What does root canal recovery time look like?
From the time you return home, recovery usually only takes a few days. Most patients no longer feel any pain or sensitivity around the surgical area after three to five days post-operative. We will provide detailed instructions for managing discomfort over the days following your root canal.
Can root canals fail?
A root canal may fail when the treatment does not remove all the damaged or infected pulp. The signs of a failed root canal may not surface for weeks, months, or even years. If the first treatment fails, you may experience discolored teeth, bumps on your gums, or swelling. If you have reason to suspect an infection, it is critical to contact your dentist before it spreads around your oral cavity.
When is a root canal not possible?
A root canal can be tough to perform for some patients and pose more of a risk to a patient than a benefit. Performing a root canal procedure beneath prosthetic restorations can cause damage to the crown and jawbone. Or, trauma and aging can cause calcification and narrow the root canal, making it difficult for your dentist to gain access.