x-ray showing a root canal

Root Canals

We've all heard the term and some even shudder at the thought of a "root canal." Here's what Dr. Birch wants you to know about root canals and why you shouldn't be nervous about them:

  • A root canal is a dental procedure aimed at saving a tooth that is severely infected or decayed.
  • The procedure involves the removal of infected or damaged pulp from the tooth's root canal, cleaning the area, and sealing it to prevent future infection.
  • Local anesthesia is administered to ensure a painless experience during the procedure.
  • A small access hole is created in the tooth to access the infected pulp.
  • The infected pulp is carefully removed from the root canal using specialized instruments.
  • The canal is then thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to eliminate any remaining bacteria.
  • The root canal is filled and sealed with a biocompatible material, and a dental crown may be placed to restore the tooth's strength and function.

So what can you expect AFTER the root canal?

  • It is normal to experience some sensitivity or mild discomfort, which can be managed with over-the-counter pain relievers. Dr. Birch will discuss options for medication at the time of the appointment.
  • You should continue to clean and brush the tooth that received treatment.
  • It is important to avoid chewing hard foods on the treated tooth until a permanent crown or filling is placed.

Why do Patients Need a Root Canal?

Dr. Birch says there are many reasons for needing a root canal and each case is different. (His wife needed one because her tooth spontaneously died and the canals caved in on themselves!!!) But here are some common reasons some patients need root canals:

Severe tooth decay: When a cavity is left untreated, it can penetrate deep into the tooth, reaching the pulp, leading to infection.

Dental trauma: A fractured or cracked tooth can expose the pulp to bacteria, necessitating a root canal. Fun fact: Dr. Birch sees at least one patient every year from a baseball to the mouth. OUCH!

Repeated dental procedures: Multiple dental procedures on the same tooth can weaken it, making a root canal necessary.

Gum disease: Advanced gum disease can cause the gums to recede, exposing the tooth's roots to bacterial infection.

Overall, root canals can relieve symptoms of pain or sensitivity if the cause is from the roots. However, Dr. Birch ensures a comfortable experience to help patients feel better. He is happy to discuss options and answer your questions. Root canals don't have to be scary!