Root Canal

Root Canals in Fort McMurray

There are few things as concerning for patients as being told by their dentist that they require a root canal. Root canal therapy may sound alarming, but the truth is that it’s a very routine procedure that is well tolerated by patients.

For the patient, a root canal feels similar to having a cavity filled. Root canals are performed under local anesthetic and are the best way to improve the likelihood of being able to retain a diseased natural tooth.

When a tooth becomes infected, it is often the result of a break, crack or cavity that allows bacteria to enter into the tooth and proliferate. When this occurs, patients will likely have symptoms of swelling around the affected tooth as well as increasing pain and often a bad taste in the mouth. Sometimes, however, infections go unnoticed until a pustule appears on the gums (a pus-filled pimple indicating infection). Since teeth are alive and receive blood supply, infections that begin in the mouth can spread throughout the body if not effectively managed. If you have symptoms of a dental infection, call your dentist for an emergency appointment.

Note: Dental infections can be quite painful and can increase in severity quickly. In order to manage pain at home, over-the-counter pain control can be used as well as an ice pack on the outside of the cheek (infected teeth are often sensitive to hot and cold, so avoid ice water if it causes more pain). If pain increases and then stops, do not cancel your dental appointment. Pain that stops abruptly can be a sign that the nerve inside the tooth has died. In order to keep this tooth, it is important to have a root canal performed to avoid a necessary extraction.

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Root Canal Procedure

In order to determine what is happening inside of a tooth, your dentist will likely begin with a visual exam and then proceed to capturing a digital X-ray. This imaging will allow your dentist to see inside the tooth and determine what the cause of your symptoms is. If it is determined that you require a root canal, your dentist will begin by injecting local anesthetic into the area around the tooth to numb it.

Once this is achieved, your dentist will begin opening the tooth with a small dental drill in order to access the pulp of the tooth. Once access is gained, the tissue inside the tooth will be removed and the chamber will be cleaned and disinfected. Now that the tooth has its core removed, it is no longer considered a ‘living’ tooth, but since the infection has been removed it can safely remain in the mouth.

Filling your tooth chamber is necessary to seal the tooth and prevent further problems, and this is achieved with a material called gutta percha. Finally, your dentist will determine how best to close the tooth. Small holes may be filled with filling material, but larger holes put the tooth at risk of breakage due to its compromised structure. In these cases, a crown will be recommended.

In order to install the crown, impressions will be taken of the tooth in order to facilitate making a crown that is visually identical to your natural tooth in shape, size and colour. Your natural tooth will be prepared by grinding it down to allow it to fit nicely beneath the crown. Your crown will be adhered to your prepared tooth with professional dental adhesive.

Once a patient has been fitted with a crown, all that’s left to do is to maintain oral health at home and have the crown checked regularly as part of your regular checkup and cleaning appointments.

Risks of Delayed Treatment

An infection in a tooth will not heal on its own like other infections. Instead, the infection is encapsulated in the tooth and can travel down the tooth and infect the surrounding bone and soft tissues. In severe cases, the infection can spread into other areas of the head and neck, causing dangerous sepsis. In some cases, antibiotics must be taken to calm the infection before it is safe to treat the tooth.

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Final Thoughts

If you are experiencing a tooth infection, don’t let fear of the root canal experience prevent you from seeking medical attention. While your root canal may take longer than a filling, your experience will not be any more uncomfortable. If fear is preventing you from seeking help, talk to your dentist about sedatives that can assist you in remaining calm throughout the procedure. Your dentist and their team are confident that they can help you through this experience and get you back to feeling your best.

If you have questions about this or other services offered by our general dentist, contact our clinic today.

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