Root Canals

The dreaded root canal! If you’ve never had one, you’ve probably heard how awful they are. And while it’s true that having a root canal is not as fun as a picnic or seeing a movie, they’re not as bad as their reputation. Especially when the alternative is losing the tooth entirely!

At Park Slope Dentistry Seventh Avenue, Dr. Angelique Freking is a skilled and experienced root canal provider, and will make the experience as quick and comfortable as possible.

 

 

Root Canal Q&A


What is a root canal?

A root canal is the procedure that can save an infected tooth. It works by removing the infected tissue inside the tooth, disinfecting the root canal system and filling the space with gutta percha to prevent the infection from returning.


Why would I need a root canal?

Root canals are necessary when infection eats so far into the tooth that it reaches the pulp chamber, which is softer and more vulnerable than your tooth’s exterior. Infections generally reach the pulp by way of an untreated cavity, but since cavities don’t always cause pain you may not even know there is a problem until the infection reaches the pulp.

Common symptoms of needing a root canal include

  • Spontaneous tooth pain, seemingly for no reason.

  • Severe tooth pain while eating.

  • Discoloration or darkening of the tooth

  • Prolonged tooth sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures

  • Swelling and tenderness in the nearby gums


What happens if I don’t get a root canal?

It won’t get better on its own. Left unchecked, the infection will continue eating away at any tissue it can find, destroying the tooth entirely and possibly moving into the gums and jaw. This can be very dangerous if the infection spreads. Fighting a long-standing infection is also very hard on your overall health.


Does getting a root canal hurt?

Honestly, not really. Many patients actually fall asleep while having theirs! Your dentist will first get you very numb, so it’s likely the only thing you’ll feel during the procedure is the tiny pinch of the lidocaine injection. The only time it can be difficult to get someone fully numb is when they waited so long the infection is really severe. In those cases, we still have a few tricks up our sleeves to make sure it’s as comfortable as possible. But for almost everyone, root canal treatment is pretty tolerable, and remember root canals actually alleviate pain by removing the infection inside your tooth. 

We can also provide nitrous oxide (aka laughing gas) or a dose of oral anti-anxiety medication if you’re feeling nervous.


How long do root canals appointments take?

Many root canals can be performed in a single visit that lasts about 90 minutes. Occasionally, a root canal requires 2 or more visits, depending on the complexity of the case. Rest assured your dentist is doing everything they can to keep you comfortable but also deliver excellent results.


What should I expect after the root canal?

After the root canal, your tooth may be sore for a few days while it heals, although some report very little post-operative sensitivity. You can take over the counter medicine like Advil and Tylenol for the pain, and should avoid chewing on the same side of your mouth as the root canal. There’s no way around it, this part of the process can be uncomfortable, but it’s better than a continued painful infection and eventually losing your tooth.


Why do I need a crown after a root canal?

Root canals involve removing tooth structure to reach the decay, and then of course also removing all the decay. The crown replaces all of this lost structure, giving the tooth the strength it needs to handle all the forces we put on it while chewing, and protecting the treated area from new infection.