in Webster TX
There isn’t a procedure we perform at Clear Lake Dental Care more misunderstood than the root canal. Patients associate pain with the procedure, which isn’t the case. The truth is — root canals can save a tooth that would otherwise need an extraction, and the procedure doesn’t involve any more pain than filling a cavity. At Clear Lake Dental Care, we perform our own root canals, saving you the inconvenience of having to go to an endodontist.
What is a root canal?
All of our teeth have three layers: the outer hard enamel, the dentin (also hard), and the pulp. The pulp is where you’ll find the blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. The pulp extends the entire length of the tooth, from the crown (top) down to the tip of the roots. The passages that run down into the roots are the “root canals.”
When decay attacks a tooth, in most cases the decay affects the enamel or the dentin layers. But when the decay penetrates the pulp, the pulp must be removed and disinfected. This is known as a root canal.
When your tooth needs a root canal
There are various ways a tooth can become infected. Deep decay, when a tooth has not been attended to, is the main reason. But decay can also form from a deep crack, plus repeated dental procedures and trauma can trigger a process where decay forms. Once decay has entered the pulp, however, the tooth has two options: extraction or a root canal. A root canal can save the natural tooth by eliminating the infection, cleaning out the tooth, and placing a crown on it.
What causes a tooth to become infected?
A tooth becomes infected when bacteria get into the tooth through a chip, crack, or cavity. There are situations when a person would have a higher risk of developing a tooth infection:
- Poor home hygiene — When a person is lackadaisical about his or her home hygiene that is the most common reason for a tooth infection. When you don’t efficiently brush twice daily and floss once daily, you allow plaque to buildup on and between your teeth. Bacteria in this sticky film on your teeth love the food particles and sugars you have left. They digest these food remains and create acids as byproducts; these acids begin to attack the enamel on your teeth. This is decay. When decay makes its way through the outer enamel and enters the inner tooth, you now have an infected tooth.
- A high sugar diet — Bacteria love sugars. Eating a diet with lots of sugar in candy and sugary sodas is a recipe for tooth decay and subsequent tooth infection.
- Dry mouth — Dry mouth is simply a condition where your mouth doesn’t produce enough saliva, and because saliva has a big role in washing your teeth and removing food particles and sugars, dry mouth makes it more likely you’ll develop decay and infections. Dry mouth typically occurs with normal aging.
benefit Of a root canal
See What Our Patients Have To Say!
” Dr. Das is the BEST Dentist you’ll ever find! He’s extremely professional and attentive to your needs. I was fearful of going to the dentist, and avoided seeing one for years; (literally) I’ve endured several painful cavities, and overly sensitive teeth all because I was afraid of seeing a Dentist! The minute I walked into Dr. Das’s office, I was instantly greeted by his courteous staff, and his professional nurse Kathy! Dr. Das came into the consulting room and explained EVERYTHING that he discovered from my x-ray exam! I was extremely anxious, and he assured me I had NOTHING to worry about! And he was absolutely RIGHT!!! Weeks later, Dr. Das performed my root canal, and I didn’t feel ANYTHING. NO PAIN THE NEXT DAY, or the days after!! If you’re fearful of dentists and looking for a professional, caring, nice, patient, and knowledgeable dentist, then Dr. Das is the one for you!!! Don’t wait, make your appointment today!!!” – Sonia G.
To visit the testimonials section of our website where you can view our video testimonials and read our written reviews, please click here!
Potential candidates for a root canal
When the pulp of a tooth becomes infected or inflamed, you’ll know. That tooth will be very sensitive to hot and cold, to biting, even to a gust of cool air. The surrounding gums will likely be swollen. The tooth may become discolored, usually grey. The pain can be intense. This is probably the root of the misconceptions about a root canal. Of course, the root canal is going to alleviate the pain — it isn’t the cause. The cause of your pain is the infection.
In rarer cases, the patient won’t have any idea there is a problem in the pulp, but a routine x-ray will show it. This is another reason keeping your twice-yearly exams and cleanings with our team at Clear Lake is so important.
Anyone who wants to save an infected tooth is a great candidate for a root canal.
What are the symptoms that my tooth is infected with?
When the infection reaches the pulp of the tooth things can get ugly. Here are the symptoms associated with an infected tooth needing a root canal:
- Intense pain
- Prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold
- Tenderness to the touch and when chewing
- Discoloration of the tooth
- Swelling or tenderness of the surrounding gum tissue
- Persistent pimples on the gums
In some cases, a patient won’t yet have the above symptoms but we can see the infection on dental x-rays during your routine cleanings and exams. The infection won’t yet have reached the nerves of the tooth.
The root canal procedure
At Clear Lake Dental Care, we perform root canals in a single appointment.
The first step is to remove the infection. We begin by numbing the area so you don’t feel anything. We make a small hole in the crown of the tooth to gain access to the interior. Through that hole, we use very small files to remove the infected pulp, damaged nerve tissue, and other debris. The tooth is completely emptied. It is then flushed with disinfectant to remove any remaining debris and to kill any lingering bacteria.
Now the empty, disinfected tooth needs attention. We fill the empty pulp chamber and root canals with a rubber-based material called gutta-percha, and then we seal the hole. The hole in the crown is filled with a composite resin filling. In some cases that finishes the procedure. Usually, however, the tooth will require a crown to protect it and to return strength and function that has been compromised by having to remove the interior pulp.
Recovery from a root canal
There isn’t really any recovery necessary. Remember that a root canal removes all of the nerves and other tissues from the interior of the tooth, so the tooth no longer has any sensation. You can bite and chew with the tooth immediately with confidence. There may be some soreness for a day or so. This is usually simply because you had your mouth open for the 90-minute procedure, but that’s about it.
Are root canals safe?
Root canals are very low-risk procedures with Dr. Das and the rest of our team. There is a slight possibility that the infection will not be fully removed. If this happens another root canal can fix the problem.
Not having a root canal is the real danger, as the infection can spread from your tooth basically anywhere in your body (see description above).
Is The root canal procedure painful?
Some people believe root canals are painful procedures. This couldn’t be more wrong. Modern anesthesia, methods, and technology have made a root canal no more painful than having a typical filling placed in a tooth. The infection creating the need for the root canal is what is extremely painful because the tooth nerves are inflamed. But the root canal removes all the nerves from the tooth, so it no longer has any sensation at all. After your root canal, the inflamed gums around your tooth may need a couple of days to calm down, and your jaw may have a bit of soreness because it was open for a period of time. But this is not acute pain and is easily manageable with over-the-counter pain relievers.
the potential dangers of leaving an infected tooth untreated
Once bacteria have reached the tooth interior, this isn’t a voluntary choice of having a root canal. Should you choose not to have your tooth treated at this point, your infected tooth may develop an abscess, a puss-filled pocket that extends up the roots of the tooth. Now even a root canal won’t be able to save the tooth. It will need extraction and replacement with a dental implant or bridge.
Also, the infection in your tooth can spread elsewhere in your body, and this can create a potentially life-threatening situation. There is ample evidence that these types of infections can even lead to sepsis, a serious medical condition in which the immune system severely overreacts to an infection in the blood.
After My Root Canal Will, I Need A Follow-Up Appointment?
At Clear Lake Dental Care we only need one appointment to remove the infection and clean the tooth. Then a dental lab will design the crown, and you will come back to place the crown. This contrasts with most practices that don’t perform root canals, requiring patients to go to a separate endodontist.
What foods should I avoid after a root canal?
There aren’t any restrictions on what you can eat moving forward. You would think a tooth that has been emptied of its interior tissue would be hollow and prone to breakage, but the tooth interior is filled with a substance called gutta-percha, and then it is covered with a crown. This makes it as strong as any of your other teeth. Also, there isn’t any sensitivity in the tooth because the nerve tissues have been removed.
Is there a case where a tooth would need extraction rather than a root canal?
The methods involved with root canals have become quite advanced, so very few teeth aren’t able to be saved with a root canal, but there are some occasions. If a tooth has such extensive decay that it compromises too much of the tooth structure, it will need extraction. This can also be true if the tooth has a severe crack, usually one that extends down below the gumline.
Root Canal Recovery
After your root canal, you may have some soreness (mainly in the muscles from holding your mouth open). If your gum tissue was inflamed, it may take a couple of days to calm down fully. But generally, you’re free to use the tooth normally. You’ll notice that the extreme pain and sensitivity you had previously are now completely gone.
What are the risks involved with a root canal?
These are low-risk procedures. Dr. Das, Dr. Pham, and Dr. Acevedo don’t make an incision in your gum tissue, so there are no sutures or the possibility of infection. They only work inside the infected tooth to remove the infected tissue and to disinfect the interior chamber. As mentioned above, the only real risk involved is if the infection is not completely removed. In that case, a second procedure would be necessary.
If I Need A Root Canal Or Extraction, Will I Be Referred To Another Office?
It’s not very likely you will be referred out. One of the benefits of being a patient at Clear Lake Dental Care is the fact that we offer a wide range of services. On rare occasions, we do have to refer our patients to a specialist, we will help you with the referral process.
How long will my tooth Last With A root canal?
Once we remove the infected pulp, fill the tooth, and place the crown your tooth should last as long as the other teeth in your mouth. People assume that the pulp is critical to the lifespan of the tooth, but the pulp is really only important during the growth and development of the tooth. Once the tooth is fully mature it can survive without the pulp, as the surrounding tissues provide nourishment. With good hygiene, a tooth that has had a root canal can last for the rest of the patient’s life.