Toothaches are a vivid reminder that teeth aren’t just pieces of hard tissue floating around in the gums. They’re intricately formed sensory organs with layers of dentin and enamel overlaying a living pulp. Coursing through the tooth’s pulp is a vital bundle of nerves and blood vessels providing nutrients and sensation to each tooth. As long as the pulp stays healthy, you’re rarely aware of the systems at work.

Tooth pain can be especially alarming, but it’s meant to warn you that something’s not right. Pain tells us that the bundle of nerves and vessels inside your tooth is irritated, damaged, or under attack.

A deep cavity can give bacteria access to the inner nerve bundle. In some cases, a significant infection, called an abscess, may develop in your jaw without any symptoms at all. If Dr. Asad Ahsan determines that the nerve won’t recover or if an infection is present, then root canal therapy may be suggested.

Modern anesthetics provide powerful numbing for gentle removal of the inflamed nerve inside the tooth. The nerve canal undergoes disinfection and careful shaping, and a sealer fills the internal space. A filling or crown over the tooth helps return the tooth to its original function.

Are Root Canals Safe?

Internet articles continue to circulate claiming adverse health effects from root canals, despite years of research proving otherwise. Many of these claims rest on false theories put forward decades ago without any scientific basis. In fact, one popular Facebook article sounding a false alarm shakily rests on a 100-year-old study tossed aside long ago.

The American Association of Endodontists stays abreast of all the current and past research and can support the safety of this vital service. In fact, new techniques and materials make root canal treatment more successful than ever.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a root canal?

A root canal is a dental procedure aimed at treating and saving a tooth that has a damaged or infected pulp (the innermost part of the tooth containing nerves and blood vessels).

Why might someone need a root canal?

A root canal is typically needed when a tooth has severe decay, a deep cavity, a cracked or fractured tooth, or an infection within the pulp. It is performed to relieve pain, eliminate infection, and save the natural tooth.

 Is a root canal painful?

The perception of pain associated with a root canal is a common misconception. The procedure itself is performed under local anesthesia, ensuring that patients do not feel pain. Most patients report feeling relief from pain following a successful root canal.

How is a root canal performed?

During a root canal, the dentist removes the infected or damaged pulp, cleans and disinfects the root canals, and seals the tooth with a filling material. In some cases, a crown may be recommended to protect and strengthen the tooth.

How long does a root canal take?

The duration of a root canal procedure depends on the complexity of the case. Generally, a root canal can be completed in one or two dental visits, with each appointment lasting about 90 minutes.

Can a tooth that had a root canal still feel pain?

It is normal to experience some discomfort or sensitivity for a few days after a root canal, but severe pain should subside. If persistent pain occurs, it’s important to contact the dentist, as additional treatment may be needed.

 Is it better to extract a tooth instead of getting a root canal?

Whenever possible, preserving natural teeth through root canal therapy is recommended. Extracting a tooth can lead to other dental issues, such as misalignment and bone loss. Root canals aim to save the natural tooth and maintain oral health.

Can I drive home after a root canal?

In most cases, patients can drive themselves home after a root canal, especially if local anesthesia is used. However, if sedation is administered, it’s advisable to arrange for someone to drive the patient home.

Can a tooth that had a root canal get infected again?

While it is rare, a tooth that had a root canal can become re-infected. Proper oral hygiene, regular dental check-ups, and following post-treatment care instructions help minimize the risk of reinfection.

How long does the recovery take after a root canal?

Recovery after a root canal is usually quick. Patients may experience some mild discomfort for a few days, which can be managed with over-the-counter pain medications. Full recovery occurs as the tooth heals.

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