Patients may be skeptical when root canals are recommended if they’re not experiencing any pain, especially if they believe in the (largely inaccurate) negative reception surrounding this procedure. However, it’s not uncommon for a dentist to suggest that a patient consider a root canal in certain circumstances of damage to the teeth, even if the patient is not experiencing any discomfort.
A tooth may have a fracture or advanced decay that exposes the innermost core to oral bacteria. When those bacteria infiltrate the tooth’s pulp, the sensitive nerve endings can become painfully inflamed. The purpose of a root canal in such a case is to prevent such an infection from developing. It’s also important to consider that infections that reach the pulp can easily spread elsewhere in the body via the bloodstream.
Therefore, if there’s a significant fracture to the tooth or a large cavity reaches the pulp, your dentist may encourage you to consider a root canal as a preventive measure to keep your tooth from hurting at some point although you may not have any symptoms at the time of the procedure.
Patients may fear that root canals themselves will cause pain, but that’s typically not the case. With modern instruments and techniques, the experience is no more uncomfortable than having a cavity filled, according to the reports of most patients who undergo the procedure.
Root canals are completed right in the office, with a small hole being drilled in the tooth to access the root canal chamber and remove any pulp material that is either already infected or could potentially become infected. The empty chamber is then cleaned thoroughly and filled with an inert, rubber-like substance to keep bacteria out of the space in the future.
What Happens If a Root Canal Goes Untreated?
The tooth cannot heal on its own and therefore requires a root canal to properly heal. Even if the patient no longer feels pain, the infection will still be present in the tooth. If the infection is not treated, the infection can spread to your brain, jaw, blood, and your body. Other than getting the tooth removed, there are no other options to treat an infected tooth than a root canal.
How Long Does a Root Canal Take?
Root canals can generally require one or two appointments of about 90 minutes each. An opening is made in the top of the tooth and the infected pulp is removed from the tooth. The canals are then disinfected and shaped with files to ensure the infected part of the tooth is removed. If the root canal needs to be completed in two appointments, medicine is placed down the canal to help kill bacteria and might prescribe antibiotics to help with the infection. A temporary filling is placed to seal the tooth’s opening until the next appointment. If the tooth can be treated in one appointment, the dentist will fill the root canal in the same appointment.
Even if you’re not experiencing dental pain, you still may need to undergo a root canal to protect your tooth. If you have any questions or concerns about this treatment, contact us at Richardson Dentistry to speak to one of our knowledgeable staff members and get the facts you need to make a decision.