Root Canals in Mill Woods, Southeast Edmonton

What is a root canal?

Root canal therapy is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or infected. Root canal therapy is performed when the pulp which is composed of nerves and blood vessels in the tooth becomes infected or damaged. During root canal therapy, the pulp is removed, and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed, restoring the tooth to its full function.

Most people are fearful of the procedure, assuming the procedure is painful. In fact, the procedure in no more painful than having a filling placed.

Root canal therapy is the treatment of choice to save a tooth that may have to be extracted and replaced by dental implant or dental bridge. Root canal therapy is highly successful and usually lasts a lifetime though occasionally, the tooth may have to be retreated due to infection.

What Are the Signs That Root Canal Therapy Is Needed?

Signs you may need root canal therapy include:

  1. Severe toothache pain upon chewing or application of pressure
  2. Prolonged sensitivity (pain) to hot or cold temperatures (after the heat or cold has been removed)
  3. Discoloration (darkening) of the tooth
  4. Swelling and tenderness in nearby gums
  5. A persistent or recurring pimple on the gums

Sometimes no symptoms are present.

The Root Canal Procedure

Root canal therapy requires one or more office visits.

  • X-ray is taken to see the shape of the root canals and determine if there are any signs of infection in the surrounding bone.
  • Your dentist will then use local anesthesia to numb the area near the tooth. This is more to relax the patient than an actual need for it.
  • Rubber dam – to keep the area dry and free of saliva during treatment, your dentist will place a rubber dam (a sheet of rubber) around the tooth.
  • Cleaning out the tooth. An access hole will then be drilled into the tooth. The pulp, along with bacteria and related debris, is removed from the tooth using a series of files of increasing diameter, one at a time. Each file is worked down the full length of the tooth to scrape and scrub the sides of the root canals. Water or sodium hypochlorite is used periodically to flush away the debris.
  • Sealing the tooth. Once the canals are cleaned, they will either be sealed or if further treatment is required, the dentist may place a temporary filling. What action is taken depends on whether there is still residual infection and the dentist needs to allow the infection to drain and/or put medication inside the tooth for the infection to clear up.
  • Filling inside of tooth. When the canals are ready to be sealed, either in the same appointment or possibly one week later, the canals are filled with a sealer paste and a rubber compound called gutta-percha.
  • Sealing exterior opening. To fill the exterior access hole created at the beginning of treatment, a filling is placed.

The final step may involve further restoration of the tooth. Because a tooth that needs root canal therapy often is one that has a large filling or extensive decay or other weakness, a crown, crown and post, or other restoration often needs to be placed on the tooth to protect it, prevent it from breaking, and restore it to full function. Your dentist will discuss the need for any additional dental work with you.

What to expect after Root Canal Therapy

With the completion of root canal therapy, you should no longer have pain though the tooth may feel sensitive due to natural tissue inflammation, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. This sensitivity or discomfort can usually be controlled with over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). The sensitivity will diminish as the inflammation subsides and tooth has healed.