When people hear the words “root canal” they’re often fearful of a painful procedure. But root canals haven’t earned their bad reputation. Drs. Melissa and Randall Stewart of Stewart Dental Group, a dentist in Charlotte, NC, explain why you don’t have to worry about a root canal.
What is a Root Canal?
Technically, the root canal is part of your tooth. It’s the hollow portion in the middle that houses your dental pulp and nerve endings. But when you hear someone mention a root canal, they’re most likely talking about a root canal procedure. This is when that dental pulp gets infected and all or part of it needs to be removed.
How Can I Tell if I Need a Root Canal?
Some people experience no symptoms to tell them there’s an infection inside their tooth. They may not even know they have one until a Charlotte, NC dentist discovers it during a routine cleaning and exam. The most common symptom, though, is tooth pain. It’s often sharp and is made worse when you’re using that particular tooth to chew or bite something.
You may also notice a prolonged sensitivity to hot and cold foods or beverages. The gums around this particular tooth can get swollen, red, and tender to the touch. You may also discover that this tooth has changed in color. Infected dental pulp often causes the tooth to appear darker than normal.
The Root Canal Process
First, your dentist will examine your tooth and officially make a diagnosis. A separate appointment will be made for the root canal procedure. When you come to that appointment, we’ll start by administering a local anesthetic to the area around the affected tooth. If you suffer from dental anxiety, certain medical conditions, or make a request, our office offers sedation dentistry to keep you relaxed.
Once the area is numb and you’re comfortable, a small hole will be drilled into the back of the tooth. A special instrument will be used to scrape out all of the infected material. The inside of the tooth is then thoroughly cleaned to make sure the infection is removed. We’ll fill the tooth with a biocompatible material. Usually, the tooth will be topped with a dental crown to give you the full functionality of your tooth back and to seal it off from further infection.
The pain that many people think of when they think of a root canal is actually caused by the infection itself. The pulp is swollen inside the tooth, causing pain and pressure. Many patients say that they experience relief as soon as the infection is removed from the tooth. A root canal is really no more extensive or painful than getting a dental filling.
Root Canals at Your Charlotte, North Carolina Dentist
Do you have a tooth that you think may require a root canal? Call us or schedule an appointment online.