Have you been told by your dentist that you need a root canal treatment? If so, we’re sure you have lots of questions. Today, our American Board-Certified Root Canal Specialist Dr. Yasmin Al-Zoubaidy answers the most common questions patients ask about the treatment.
SEE ALSO: What is a Root Canal Treatment
Are root canal treatments painful?
Root canal treatment when done right by the right hands, will relief the pain and not cause it. Most pain comes from damaged nerve tissue and root canal treatments involve removing the damaged tissue, disinfecting the canal and sealing it. Endodontists are experts in pain management, and most cases can be treated quickly and comfortably.
How many dental visits do I need to complete my root canal treatment?
It really depends on the case but in general most root canal treatments are completed in one to two visits due to the advancement of endodontic science and technology.
Should I have my tooth pulled and get an implant or just live with the gap?
You may think, why not have a tooth pulled, especially if no one can see it, but you will know your tooth is missing and it will negatively impact your quality of life.
Missing teeth can cause other teeth to shift, affect your ability to properly chew and ruin your smile. Also losing your back teeth will make you age faster and look older.
Implants can be great options if your tooth cannot be saved but it should be your last option when everything else fails. No denture, bridge or implant will look, feel and function as well as a natural tooth.
Modern endodontics offers advancements in technologies, procedures and materials, giving you many treatment options to save your natural teeth. If you’re told root canal is not an option, ask why and request a referral to an endodontist who are the specialist in saving teeth.
What will happen if I don’t do the root canal treatment?
An infected tooth remains infected until the tooth has a root canal or is removed. If it is not treated, the infection can spread and an abscess will form. The presence of an abscess is an indication that the infection has spread to the jawbone and surrounding tissues. Sometimes delaying treatment will mean that you also have to treat (or lose) the teeth on either side of the original infected tooth. Infection can also spread into your tissues like the face, the floor of the mouth and even the brain.
How do I know if I have an abscessed tooth?
People who develop abscess usually suffer from pain and swelling. The swelling itself is pretty unpleasant. It is filled with pus, bacteria, and decaying white blood cells.
Some other symptoms are:
- severe pain
- swollen neck glands
- pain when chewing
- redness and swelling of the gums
- bitter taste in the mouth
- tenderness in gums
- foul breath
- sensitivity of the teeth to cold or hot
- general discomfort and uneasiness
- an open, draining sore on the side of the gum
- swollen area of the upper or lower jaw
My dentist gave me antibiotic and now my pain is gone. Is the infection gone as well?
Sometimes, the toothache will stop because the infection destroys the pulp of your tooth, or the antibiotic helped the body overcome the bacteria. However, this doesn’t mean that the infection is gone. The source of the infection i.e. the infected nerve hasn’t been treated so infection will continue to spread if left untreated even though you stopped having symptoms.
Are there ways to help anxious patients? Can the root canal treatment be done under general anaesthesia?
Dental phobia is a serious issue. Please speak to your dentist about your fear and anxiety, as there are many ways to help an anxious patient like oral sedation and hypnosis.
In severe cases where patient is unable to tolerate the treatment due to fear and anxiety, or in patients with severe gag reflex or physical and mental disabilities, we can do root canal treatment in the hospital under general anaesthesia or deep sedation. The endodontist should be licensed to do the treatment in the hospital.
Why should I see an endodontist for my root canal treatment? Can my dentist do it?
Endodontist are the expert in diagnosing, managing and treating root canal infections and that’s because:
- Endodontists have advanced education
To become specialists, endodontists have two to three years of additional education in an advanced specialty program in endodontics after completing four years of dental school.
- Endodontists have specialized expertise
By limiting their practice to endodontics, endodontists focus exclusively on treatments of the dental pulp. They complete an average of 25 root canal treatments a week, while general dentists typically do two.
- Endodontists are experts in pain management
Endodontists use specialized techniques to ensure patients are thoroughly comfortable during their treatments. They are experts in administering numbing medications, especially in patients who traditionally have problems getting and staying numb.
- Endodontists use cutting-edge technologies
Endodontists have materials and equipment designed to make your treatment more comfortable and successful such as dental operating microscopes, dental dam and 3D imaging.
- Endodontists have advanced education