A root canal treatment is a dental procedure that removes the inflamed or infected pulp from inside the tooth. The root canal is carefully cleaned, disinfected, then filled and sealed. Root canal treatment aims to remove bacteria from the diseased root canal, prevent tooth reinfection, and save your natural tooth. There is no need to worry if your dentist or endodontist recommends root canal therapy to treat a diseased or decayed tooth. At South Coast Dentistry, we have experienced dentists who provide quality root canal treatment at an affordable cost in Aliso Viejo.

What To Expect During Root Canal Treatment

Millions of teeth are treated annually using root canal therapy, which reduces pain and restores dental health. Inside a tooth, beneath the enamel and the hard layer called dentin, is a soft tissue called the pulp. This tissue consists of blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue that support growth as the tooth root grows. A fully developed tooth can continue to live without a pulp because it receives nutrients from the surrounding tissue.

Modern root canal treatment is quite similar to a regular filling. Depending on the extent of tooth damage and your circumstances, your dentist can complete the procedure in two or several appointments. Root canal treatment is relatively painless and highly effective. You will soon be able to smile, bite, and bite easily again.

The Root Canal Procedure

Root canal treatment is performed in three steps and requires one to three sessions.

Root Canal Cleaning

First, the dentist will remove everything inside the root canal. The patient will be under local anesthesia as the dentist makes a small access hole in the tooth's surface. The dentist then uses a tiny file to remove the diseased or dead pulp tissue.

Root Canal Filling

Next, the dentist uses a small file and a cleaning solution to clean, shape, and decontaminate the cavity. The tooth is then filled with a rubber-like material using adhesive cement to seal the canal completely. After root canal treatment, the tooth is dead. The patient will no longer feel pain from this tooth since the nerve tissue and the infection have been removed.

Fitting A Crown Or Filling

After a root canal treatment, your tooth is now more fragile than before. Teeth without pulp must receive nutrition through the ligaments that attach the tooth to the bone. Although this treatment alone is sufficient, the tooth becomes brittle over time and must be protected with a crown or filling.

The patient should not bite the tooth until the crown or filling is ready. Once your crown or filling is in place, you can use your tooth as before. Treatment often requires two or three appointments.

Whether Root Canal Treatment Is Painful

One significant concern with root canal treatment is whether it is painful. When a trained dentist performs the treatment, it should be relatively painless. The pain you feel is caused by the infection, not the treatment. Treatment is painless. Your dentist will numb the tooth and surrounding area with local anesthesia to make the procedure less painful.

It is expected to experience some pressure and soreness after treatment. This feeling is temporary, and over-the-counter painkillers may provide sufficient relief. Prescription medications, like codeine, are also available if needed. Your dentist can prescribe antibiotics to treat or prevent infections.

Who Needs Root Canal Treatment?

When a tooth's pulp becomes damaged or diseased, it cannot repair itself, and the tissue dies. If you have deep cavities, cracked teeth, or loose fillings, bacteria can penetrate the pulp, eventually damaging it. Bone infections can occur when bacteria enter through root openings. Infections weaken and destroy bones. The ligaments around the teeth become swollen, causing the teeth to become loose.

Pulp damage makes the tooth sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. Some people experience pain when chewing or a throbbing pain that persists. If untreated, the infection will spread. Over time, the tooth becomes loose and needs to be extracted. Some patients have a tooth extracted when the pain is particularly severe. Sometimes, the tooth is impossible to repair due to severe tooth decay, trauma, or bone loss due to periodontitis or periodontal disease.

However, surrounding teeth could shift and become crooked when a tooth is extracted. When this happens, your teeth could be misaligned, making it difficult for them to fit together. Root canal treatment can save your tooth and eliminate the pain. If the dentist cannot save a tooth, the next ideal option is a dental implant. However, nothing beats your natural teeth, so it is best to save them if possible.

The Cost Of Root Canal Treatment

Dental treatment costs vary, but saving a tooth with root canal treatment is relatively cost-effective. Another option is tooth extraction, but the cost of a dental implant or dental bridge used to replace the extracted tooth is usually higher. A tooth extraction can also cause your teeth to become misaligned.

The Complications Of A Root Canal Treatment

As with any dental procedure, complications can arise during or after a root canal treatment. A tooth has four root canals. However, sometimes, the dentist can only find three root canals. If a root canal is left untreated, the infection can persist and spread to the bone.

Your dentist must also ensure that the filling material penetrates the canal sufficiently to fill it. If the root canal is not well closed, the infection could recur.

During the procedure, the tooth root can crack, and the instrument used to perform the procedure can break in the canal or perforate it. If this happens, it makes it difficult to fill the tooth effectively. If a complication occurs, the specialist can attempt to correct the problem and conclude the root canal.

Patients should always follow the dentist's instructions to avoid complications. If you need antibiotics, it is essential to complete your prescription. Once root canal treatment is complete, a permanent restoration, such as a crown, must be inserted.

How You Can Avoid Root Canal Therapy

To prevent infections, cavities, and periodontal disease, dentists recommend the following:

  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day, especially before bed.
  • Use toothpaste containing fluoride.
  • Use a suitable toothbrush and brush regularly.
  • Change your toothbrush.
  • Regularly engage in dental checkups and cleanings.
  • Use dental floss to clean your teeth and prevent plaque buildup.
  • Avoid sugary drinks and foods, and eat a healthy diet.
  • Dental sealants, especially in children, also prevent cavities.

Root Canal Recovery Tips

The following tips can speed up your recovery after a root canal treatment:

Monitor Your Mouth After Treatment

Pay close attention to your mouth, including how it feels immediately after surgery. Pain and swelling will obviously occur, but you can reduce the pain with the proper measures. Wait until the numbness goes away before eating. There is a risk of biting your tongue and sustaining injury if you eat before the anesthesia wears off. 

Swelling often occurs after root canal treatment, so ice packs can help to reduce swelling. When you sleep, use a pillow to elevate your head to avoid discomfort. Plan your meals properly for the first few days. How can you eat appropriately without chewing too much? Soft foods such as soups, smoothies, and mashed potatoes are good for root canal recovery. You can eat to your fill without worrying about damaging your sensitive teeth.

If you are a smoker or vape user, try to avoid smoking for several days following root canal treatment. The fewer foreign objects and chemicals that enter your mouth, the faster your healing will be.

Avoid Exercise For A Few Days

Exercise should be a part of your daily routine. However, you must be careful when exercising if you have just undergone a root canal treatment. Take it easy for the first few days. Inquire from your dentist about how stopping exercise will help. Exercising too soon after treatment can cause new bleeding and pain.

Remember, you want to be as relaxed as possible during your recovery. This way, you can ensure you do not suffer from problems caused or exacerbated by your training. When you are ready to get back on your feet, go for exercises explicitly designed for people recovering from surgery. Mild exercises allow you to enjoy the benefits of exercise without putting strain on your body.

Walking is the ultimate therapeutic exercise for beginners looking to lose weight without stress. If you do everything slowly and relax, you will feel like your old self in no time.

Get Sufficient Rest

You must receive the necessary rest for optimal healing of the root canal. Try to get as much sleep as possible to recover and return to your usual self quickly. Take a day or two off work after your root canal treatment. You will likely heal faster and feel better than if you tried to live a normal life.

Remember that the treatment can cause pain, discomfort, and fatigue. Sleeping will speed up the healing process and make you feel better. If you are taking medication specifically for pain relief, it is wise to stay at home to avoid possible accidents. The ultimate gift you can give your body during this time is to give it a few days of complete rest and let it recover.

Pay Attention to Your Feelings

It is obvious that you will not be yourself because of the pain after root canal treatment. Pay attention to how you feel when you get home and afterward. If adequately treated, swelling and pain will subside within 1 to 2 days. Contact your dentist if you still have severe pain several days after treatment. There could be an infection or other problem in the root canal.

You should contact your dentist right away if you:

  • Have a swelling that persists for days.
  • The pain medication is not effective in managing pain.
  • You develop rashes and hives.

See If Your Dental Crown Has Issues

Your dentist will likely place a dental crown after completing the root canal therapy. In most cases, the dentist places a temporary crown as you await the permanent crown. You should monitor how the crown feels, including whether you experience pain or irritation when you chew or bite down. You should inform your dentist immediately if the temporary crown causes pain or swelling. You should still monitor how your mouth feels even after you acquire the permanent crown.

The Signs Of A Failed Root Canal

Root canal therapy is a highly successful and effective treatment for addressing infection within the pulp of a patient's tooth. However, in rare cases, root canal treatment could fail. Therefore, all root canal patients must be aware of all root canal treatment failure symptoms. When you know the symptoms, you can quickly determine whether additional treatment is required.

How can I know if something is wrong with my tooth after root canal treatment? The most common symptoms and warning signs to look out for are:

Pain That Persists Several Days After Treatment

An obvious symptom of a failed root canal is discomfort or pain at the treatment site. The pain could be stabbing or dull and throbbing. It cannot hurt unless you bite or release pressure on the area. Pain can develop as soon as the anesthetic wears off, or it can fail to appear until days or weeks after your treatment.

Tooth Sensitivity

Teeth are very sensitive structures that can sense trouble when symptoms emerge. Tooth sensitivity following a root canal treatment is not normal. If your teeth are affected by changes in temperature or stimulation (such as a toothbrush), something is wrong. Theoretically, the tooth should not feel anything after root canal treatment because all the nerves no longer exist. Hypersensitivity is one of the many symptoms of root canal failure. Sensitivity can result from a secondary neural canal that goes unnoticed at first.

 Swelling or Inflammation

Is there swelling or inflammation in the gums, jaw, or side of the mouth where the root canal is? After a root canal (where the injections are typically given), you will only experience mild inflammation of your gums. Swollen gums could indicate a cyst or infection inside the bone. If your tooth is cracked, bacteria can penetrate the root and affect the surrounding tissue. Be sure to consult your dentist.

If the swelling spreads to your face or affects your airways, you should go to the emergency room immediately.

Drainage/Dental Abscess

 A tooth abscess must be drained to prevent infection and relieve pain. Some abscesses cause pain in the gums next to the roots. Cavities or cracks in the tooth can also cause discharge. The discharge can also appear on your gums when you press on your teeth. This discharge usually has a salty or metallic taste.

Tooth Discoloration

When the nerve tissue in the tooth dies, the tooth tends to become darker in color. Teeth usually change color to a brown or bluish hue. Discoloration cannot be bleached, but your dentist can perform internal bleaching to brighten the shade of your tooth enamel. Have your dentist take an X-ray to check for root canal failure or internal resorption.

Jaw Boils and Pimples

Active abscesses form cysts in the bone and gum tissue, causing "fistulas" or fluid-filled pimples in the gums. The fistulas could range from tiny little sores to large boils. X-rays can also show a cavity-like cyst in the bone next to the tooth's root. A fistula could form or disappear if the pus drains or the infection resolves. However, the cause of the swelling will not go away on its own, so do not be fooled into thinking it has healed.

Sinus Issues

Do you have sinus issues like a clog or a runny nose that developed after your root canal? The weight from sinus contamination, irritation, or sensitivities can imitate a toothache. Sometimes, the upper tooth roots reach so far that the lining of your sinus depression wraps over them. If the root canal treatment enters your sinus lining, you risk microbes entering your sinuses, causing other complications.

Sometimes, a failed root canal treatment will not show any signs. Your dentist could notice the signs of root canal failure during a regular dental checkup, usually after taking an x-ray. The absence of pain does not guarantee a successful root canal treatment. It is good to have a follow-up review to arrest any issue that crops up.

The Common Reasons For Root Canal Failure

A root canal failure can occur if the dentist misses a nerve during a root canal treatment. Dentists must do everything possible to prevent contamination during root canal therapy by ensuring that saliva does not enter the canal. Placing a crown too late can cause root canal failure since bacteria can re-enter the tooth. Root canal treatment could also be compromised by subsequent tooth damage or decay.

Find An Experienced Dentist Near Me

If you are scheduled for a root canal treatment, you should only work with an experienced dentist for a successful procedure. At South Coast Dentistry, our experienced dentists have performed countless root canal procedures with successful results. Contact us if you need a reliable dentist in Aliso Viejo. Call us at 949-274-9086 to speak to one of our dentists.