Root canal therapy is an effective way to preserve and restore a tooth that is plagued by extensive decay or is severely infected. Once fully recovered from the procedure, the tooth will be healthy enough and strong enough to perform normal biting and chewing functions again. The experienced dentist at Smyrna Dental Group in Smyrna, TN, can perform root canal therapy to restore your tooth and save it from extraction.
Signs a Root Canal is Needed
Various signs and symptoms can develop when a tooth is severely infected or decayed, indicating the need for extraction or restorative root canal therapy. Through an oral exam and x-ray imaging, our skilled dentist can assess the extent of infection, decay, or damage and determine if the tooth can be restored through root canal therapy. Some of the signs that you might need a root canal include:
- A persistent or severe toothache
- Discoloration or darkening of the affected tooth
- Swelling or tenderness of the gums near the problem tooth
- Ongoing sensitivity to hot and cold foods and drinks
- Pain or sensitivity when biting into or chewing food
- The development of an abscess in the gums
Root Canal Treatment
In many ways, root canal therapy is similar to having a cavity filled. However, regular cavities only affect the outer layers of a tooth. Root canal therapy is performed when a tooth’s innermost layer is severely infected or decayed. At the center of a tooth is a soft material called the pulp, which also extends down into the canals of the tooth’s root. When performing root canal therapy, the infected or decayed pulp is removed from the center of the tooth and the canals of the root.
After drilling into the tooth and removing all the affected pulp, the interior of the tooth and root are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. The tooth is then strengthened and restored by filling it in and sealing it with a dental filling or material. If needed, a crown can be placed over the treated tooth to further strengthen and protect it. For most patients, local anesthesia ensures there is little to no discomfort or pain during the procedure.
Recovery and Post-Operative Care
Following root canal therapy, the treated tooth and surrounding gums will need time to heal and recover. It is normal to experience some mild discomfort in the first few days afterward. Prescription or over-the-counter medications can help with pain or discomfort and also reduce any swelling that might occur. Rinsing the mouth with warm salt water several times each day for several days following the procedure is also beneficial as it promotes circulation, which can speed the healing process.
Another important aspect of recovering from a root canal is to avoid aggravating the treated area while it is still healing. Brush the treated tooth and surrounding gums gently. Brushing harshly could irritate the area and delay the healing process. It is also best to avoid chewing on that side of the mouth for a few days. Hard or sticky foods should be avoided. The helpful dental professionals at our office in Smyrna can provide additional guidance on root canal recovery following your procedure.
You can avoid extraction and save a severely infected or decayed tooth with root canal therapy. Schedule an appointment with our dentist to learn more about root canals by calling Smyrna Dental Group at (615) 355-6800.