Root Canal

Understanding Your Root Canal

What is a root canal?

In the very center of your tooth there is an artery, a vein, and a nerve. When this area gets infected it must be physically removed, sterilized and filled with an insert filling material.

Will it cause discomfort?

During a root canal the tooth is numb from the use of xylocaine. There should be no feeling at all. If you’re numb you’re numb and if you’re not you’re not! But the dilemma which arises is what to tell a patient to expect afterward. In 95% of the cases afterwards there is only minor swelling and tenderness, but in 5% of the cases it can be extremely uncomfortable. That’s why we always prescribe very strong pain medication with every root canal. You should not drive or drink alcohol with it. My advice is to take some Advil, Tylonol, or aspirin (whichever suits you) while your tooth is still numb to ease the transition when the anesthetic wears off. Then if there is any discomfort you will have a prescription for a very strong pain medication that you can fill if you need to.

Should I take my antibiotics?

It is very important that you take your antibiotics to help rid the area of infection. And with all antibiotics FINISH the entire prescription as directed even of the tooth feels fine. You do not have to fill the prescription for paid medication, but you MUST take the antibiotics.

Do root canals always work?

No! A root canal is not a black and white cure, it is a therapy with a high success rate. Sometimes the infection never clears up and tooth has to be either A) Retreated, B) have a retrofill (a retrofill is when we lay the gum tissue back, curette out the infection, and place a silver filling at the bottom or the root) or C) extract the tooth. The success or failure of a root canal can result from causes that are not under our control (such as, the anatomy of the tooth, breakage of endodontic files in the root or the patient’s own immune system).

What happens after my root canal?

After the artery, vein and nerve are taken out of the tooth it is technically “dead” The reason the tooth may be sore is that the area around the tooth is inflamed. The tooth will become dry and brittle and can fracture. That is why ALL teeth with root canals need a “post build-up” and a “crown”. A build-up is where we place a metal post down the canal of the root and place a silver filling around it. This helps distribute the forces on the tooth and helps it avoid fractures. Then we place a crown over the build- up to hold the tooth together. The build- up and crown are each separate procedures with separate fees and are not included in the fee for the root canal. After the root canal, build- up and crown, the tooth should be fine and you should use it as you would any ordinary natural tooth.