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What to Expect from a Root Canal

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Here at Bellano Dental Health, we’re committed to providing the best possible care to our patients, sometimes before they even walk into our office. We sat down with Dr. Terry Turner to discuss the root canal process so you can walk into the office feeling confident. Below are some answers to frequently asked questions about this procedure and what you can expect.

  • How do I know when I need a root canal?

Patients who need root canals often notice pain or sensitivity in the affected tooth. This sensitivity can be to both hot or cold temperatures, and often goes away before coming back more intensely. If you are experiencing these symptoms with any of your teeth, please don’t hesitate to ask your dentist!

Routine x-rays can also reveal underlying issues that may merit a root canal procedure. Occasionally, an abscess will form in such a way that pressure does not build up in the tooth or nerve area. Though not painful, these abscesses can still eat away at the tooth, compromising its integrity.

For this reason, the Bellano team takes individual xrays regularly to ensure that no abscesses are left unaddressed.

  • What is a root canal?

In short, a root canal is a process by which your dentist or endodontist removes decay from within an affected tooth, cleans and sterilizes it, and adds a crown to maintain the tooth’s stability. The process is similar to a filling, but can take closer to an hour.

There are three main reasons a patient may need a root canal:

  1. Irreversible pulpitis, wherein the nerves within the tooth get inflamed due to tooth decay.
  2. Nerve swelling from irritation. Since your tooth’s nerves are in a contained system, there is no room for them to expand. Swelling can cause the nerve to cut off its own blood supply, which leads to nerve decay and tooth death.
  3. A dead or dying tooth. When a tooth is dying, the body sees it as an issue to be eliminated. As your body tries to expel the tooth, you may experience pain, inflammation, and other similar issues.

As much as possible, we try to perform root canals on the same day we realize a patient needs one. Patients who put off the procedure because they’re nervous or don’t think it’s a big issue can prolong the problem, leading to bone loss, tooth loss, and stress on your body.

  • What can I expect from the root canal procedure?

Root canals used to take 6-7 hours to complete. With recent advancements in dental technology, we can usually finish the procedure in just one hour!

During a root canal, your dentist will enter the canal within the tooth. They will then remove decaying tissue with files and a rotary handpiece, followed by the use of irrigants to debride and disinfect the interior of your tooth. After it’s clean, the canal is dried and filled with a heat-treated, rubberised material that is sterile, stable, and doesn’t allow any bacteria to grow.

Finally, and most importantly, your dentist will place a crown around the tooth to maintain its integrity. Without the support of a crown, the tooth can become brittle and break.

If you are nervous about getting a root canal, please talk with your Bellano dentist! We would be happy to discuss your fears and can even use gas to ease the process.

  • How long does it take to recover from a root canal?

A root canal is similar to a filling, just with more instruments, and is usually an hour-long procedure. If you came into the office with pain, it’s common to experience some soreness. The root canal will alleviate the problem in your tooth, but is only part of the healing process. Patients who walk in pain-free often leave pain-free, and are able to manage their discomfort with Ibuprofen.

  • Do root canals require further procedures or follow-up care?

With modern technological advancements, root canal procedures’ success rates are very high. That said, your dentist will keep an eye on the treated tooth during your regular dental exams to ensure there are no complications.

If you have any pain or discomfort in a previously treated tooth, talk to your dentist or endodontist about retreatment.

  • Can I avoid needing a root canal in the first place?

Our approach to dentistry will always emphasize preventative care. Regular exams, alongside proper and consistent at-home care, give us a chance to catch many problem areas before they escalate and can reduce your risk of complications. If you ever experience abnormal pain or sensitivity - or just have questions or concerns - please do not hesitate to bring them up to your dentist!

Even with the best at-home care, you may still need a root canal someday. Bellano dentists perform these regularly in our offices and are always gaining new tools and education to make interventional care as comfortable and convenient as possible. Dr. Turner alone performs an average of 500 treatments a year: saving teeth, relieving pain, and making teeth healthy again.

Have more questions about root canals? Drop us a line!


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