The root canal: it’s a dental experience nobody wants to have but that’s actually very common.
Right now, dentists throughout the U.S. perform about 15 million root canals annually, making them some of the most common dental procedures in the world.
Just because root canals are widespread, though, doesn’t mean you don’t have questions about what to expect from yours. Here’s everything you ever needed to know about a root canal, from start to finish.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal is a simple, outpatient procedure that gets rid of infected pulp within a problem tooth. During the procedure, the dentist will drill into the tooth in question, clean it out, shape the inside of the tooth, and fill and seal it to prevent future problems.
Root canals are warranted when filings are not enough to rectify the damage and the tooth needs extensive attention. Without this procedure, the tissue surrounding the tooth may become infected and be vulnerable to an abscess, which can lead to further issues in your surrounding teeth.
While many people worry about how a root canal will affect the nerve of their tooth, it’s important to remember that the tooth’s nerve is not essential to the health and wellness of the tooth after it emerges through the gums.
Although you may lose some sensations of hot or cold in the affected tooth, the tooth will remain functional and strong once the procedure is over.
How Long Does a Root Canal Take?
A root canal may take as long as a few hours. But don’t worry – the dentist will numb you with local anesthesia.
Some dental offices even offer additional sedation options to keep you comfortable throughout your procedure. If you’re nervous about being awake or being able to feel sensation during your root canal, don’t be!
Simply talking with your dentist will allow you to learn more about your sedation options and find a solution that works for you. If you don’t want to go “under” during the procedure, you’ll have the option of listening to a podcast or music or watching a movie while your dentist works to complete the procedure.
What are the Signs you Need a Root Canal?
Aside from hearing the news from your dentist, what are the signs you need a root canal? Here are a few sure-fire indications that the procedure is right for you:
- Pain or signs of infection, including swelling and discharge
- Dark tooth color, soft tissue changes, or asymmetry surrounding the tooth
- Thermal, percussion, electric pump, or x-ray evaluation outcomes
- Tenderness in the tooth root or gum
- Dental examination
If you believe you have any symptoms your dentist is not aware of, make an appointment immediately. Root canals are more effective when they’re undertaken at the first sign of trouble.
What to Expect After a Root Canal
For the first few days after your root canal, your tooth will likely feel sensitive due to inflammation surrounding the tissue. This is especially true if there was pain or infection surrounding the tooth before the procedure.
This discomfort is typically controlled with prescription pain pills or over-the-counter medications like Advil or Aleve. Despite the slight discomfort, most patients find that they can return to work and other normal activities the day following the root canal.
Although your doctor will give you specific information about how to care for your tooth after the procedure, it’s generally wise to avoid chewing on the tooth that is under repair. This helps prevent contamination of the tender interior of the tooth and helps ensure the tooth won’t break before it can be fully restored.
How Successful are Root Canals?
Root canals are highly successful treatments. The procedure has a 95% success rate, in fact. In virtually every root canal performed, the repaired tooth can and will last a lifetime.
What’s more, the repaired tooth will not appear obviously repaired. Instead, the crown or filling added to the tooth will keep it looking normal and natural, which will hide from onlookers the fact that it was performed.
Root Canal Alternatives
If there’s any way possible to save your natural teeth, your dentist will want to help you do it. Because of this, a root canal is often the treatment of choice.
By removing the infected pulp from the interior of the tooth and repairing its structure, a root canal allows you to keep your natural tooth and get rid of infection all at once.
In some cases, a dentist may recommend an alternative to a root canal, such as a bridge or implant. This is highly case-dependent, though, and will depend on your unique needs.
Preparing for Your Root Canal
As the time draws near for you to undergo your root canal, it’s normal to be nervous. Be sure to talk with your doctor regarding your concerns.
He or she will be able to provide you with some literature and information that will help you understand the process of a root canal and prepare yourself accordingly.
No matter what, remember that the root canal is a safe, routine procedure and that you’ll be back to yourself in no time!
Have additional questions about your root canal? Contact our offices to learn more!
Determining whether a crown or a filling is necessary is not always a straightforward experience.
Even if you know you need dental work, it can be tough to figure out what kind of dental work, and which option is best for your unique injury, crack, or chip. In some cases, the best choice is a partial crown, which is also known as an inlay. In others, this won’t be the ultimate solution.
No matter what, it’s always necessary to talk to your dentist, who will examine your dental situation and come up with a recommendation for treatment. In most cases, this recommendation is based on several elements, including how much tooth is left after the removal of the old filling and decay.
For your own information, though, here’s what you need to know about when you need a crown, and when a simple filling will likely do.
The Differences Between a Filling and a Crown
To inform yourself about your dental care options, the first step is to understand the differences between a filling and a crown.
While dental crowns are ceramic or porcelain prosthetic teeth that fit over existing teeth, fillings are composite materials that serve to fill the space where decayed tooth material is removed. Filings are most commonly used to treat cavities, although more serious cavities may require crowns or crowns combined with fillings.
Crowns are also sometimes combined with bridges, which are used to fill gaps between teeth, using the crowns as anchors to hold them in place. Crowns are designed to protect weak teeth, provide structure for broken teeth, or support large or extensive fillings.
What you Need to Consider When Deciding Between a Filling and a Crown
In some cases, a filling or a crown will work to repair your tooth. In these cases, you’ll have more choice when it comes to which dental care option to choose. In these situations, here are the things you’ll want to consider as you make your decision:
The Condition of Your Affected Tooth
In many ways, the condition of the tooth that’s left behind after an injury or impact will determine which option is right for you. If the tooth that’s left behind is large and in decent shape, there’s a good chance that a filling will be enough to provide ongoing durability and structure. If the leftover tooth is fragile or small, however, a full or partial crown may be needed to augment the tooth structure. In these cases, the crown will also help the tooth resist further fractures. In rare cases, the fracture that’s already occurred will be serious enough that a root canal or a complete extraction may be needed.
The Likelihood of Decay or Further Fracture
If the affected tooth is completely healthy, you’ll have more options regarding treatment. If the affected tooth is already partially decayed, though, that will influence your overall care choices. Because preexisting dental decay increases your risk for cavities, patients with partially decayed teeth may need crowns rather than fillings.
This is because a filling can crack an already-decayed tooth, potentially furthering damage and causing even more issues, which may lead to root canals or extractions down the road.
If a partially-decayed tooth is properly cleaned and outfitted with a crown, that tooth can last upwards of ten years or more, which is an ideal long-term solution for many people.
When a Filling is an Acceptable Solution
In some cases, the damage to the tooth surface is minimal enough that a simple filling is a perfectly acceptable solution. Think of it this way: crowns are ideal for situations where dental damage or decay is considerable, while fillings are ideal for times when the damage is less pronounced.
Whereas fillings involve the removal of decayed dental material, a dental crown simply rests directly atop the tooth. The crown reinforces the structure, while the filling creates new dental material, essentially. Because of this, fillings are ideal for people who want to keep their natural tooth material intact, as much as possible.
Fillings will seal a surface comprehensively and provide the kind of stability needed to reduce splitting and fractures. If you’re in need of a minor improvement to the dental surface, you may be a good candidate for a filling. Fillings utilize composite material designed to attach to teeth and make them look natural, while also reinforcing their existing structure.
Although many people who get fillings worry that the filling will look obviously fake, the composite material can be altered in color to match the tone of your natural teeth, leading to a seamless appearance.
Additional Factors to Consider
Making a decision between a filling and a crown can be complex. Here are a few other things you’ll want to think about:
- Cost. There can be some large cost differences between fillings and crowns. Be sure to talk to your dentist if you’re concerned about the price of your dental treatment, and look into options like dental insurance, payment plans, or sponsorships. At the end of the day, getting the care that your mouth requires is more important than cost, so it’s essential to find a way to make the procedure accessible.
- Your long-term dental health. Well it crowns strengthens teeth, a filling won’t offer quite as much protection. One of the primary reasons for Crown placement is that it is designed to reinforce and strengthen a tooth by cupping and encasing the tooth surface. In most cases, the crown literally creates a rigid splint that holds a tooth together. This means that a tooth repaired with a crown is actually stronger than the tooth would have been original. Dental fillings, on the other hand, don’t offer quite the same level of protection. Placing a feeling won’t increase the overall strength of the tooth, but may serve to resolve short-term or less serious issues.
- Your dentist’s recommendation. Even if you have an idea about what would or would not be the ideal care approach for your tooth, it’s important to listen to your dentist. Remember the dentist deal with fillings and crowns on a daily basis, and the recommendations they’re making are grounded and Science and experience. With this in mind, be sure to maintain an open dialogue with your dentist, and ask any questions that you may have. They’ll be able to tell you why they’re making the recommendation they are, and how they believe that it will benefit the ongoing health and wellness of your mouth.
Making Your Dental Decisions
You’re trying to decide between a crown and a filling, be sure to talk to your dentist first. They’ll be able to help you understand the differences between the two, and come up with a plan to secure your dental on oral health for years to come. Are you trying to decide between a filling and a crown? Contact our skilled staff today. Our team will help you schedule an evaluation and get on your way to dental wellness.