All You Need to Know About Root Canal

Posted on:

October 26, 2019

If you have a tooth that is fractured, severely decayed, or has an infection (abscess), your dentist may recommend root canal therapy (often the word “therapy” is dropped and the procedure is commonly referred to as just “root canal”). Root canals are used to repair and save your tooth instead of extracting it.

All You Need to Know About Root Canal

What’s Involved in a Root Canal?

Every tooth has a root canal system that houses the blood vessels and nerve fibers of the tooth. The blood vessels and nerve fibers are referred to as the pulp of a tooth. Tooth structure is living tissue so it requires oxygen so that’s why there are blood vessels inside each tooth. The pulp can become infected if you have:

  • A deep cavity that goes to the pulp (the bacteria that creates the cavity is now in the root canal system).
  • A cracked or fractured tooth.
  • Blunt trauma to a tooth causing injury to the blood vessels entering the roots.

If untreated, the tooth can become infected. If this happens, you may develop pain and swelling and an abscess may form in the bone around the end of the root of the tooth. The bacteria in the bone can break down the bone matrix which could lead to loss of the tooth.

What You Should Expect for Root Canal Treatment?

Root canal therapy can take 1 or 2 office visits to complete. Since your dentist will use a local anesthetic (Novocaine), the procedure is typically pain-free.

Before The Treatment Begins, Your Dentist Will:

  • Take X-rays to see the apex of the root and surrounding bone.
  • Numb the area around and including your tooth so you are comfortable during the treatment.

During The Treatment, Your Dentist Will:

  • Create an opening (access to the pulp) through the biting surface of the tooth.
  • Remove the blood vessels and nerve fibers from inside the root canal system of the tooth.
  • Irrigate the root canal system with germ-killing medicine.
  • Fill the root canals with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha to seal the apex of the roots.
  • Cover the access with a temporary filling until a permanent filling or crown can be placed.

What Happens After Root Canal Treatment:

  • The tooth and surrounding area may be a little tender for a few days. Your dentist will talk to you about what you can do to lessen the discomfort.
  • Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics due to the nature of the infection.

How Long Will A Tooth That Had A Root Canal Last?

A tooth that has had root canal therapy can last a lifetime. It is always important to maintain good oral hygiene habits and visit your dentist regularly to ensure optimal oral health.

About the author

Dr. George Orfaly

Dr. George Orfaly, D.M.D.

Dr. George Orfaly is a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry and has been practicing as a dentist in Salem, MA since 2005. He has consistently improved the lives of his patients by providing them relief, confidence, and healthy smiles. He believes that oral health is directly related to overall health and well-being. Dr. Orfaly has also been an active member of the American Dental Association, Massachusetts Dental Society, and North Shore District Dental Society.

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Deej Twombly
October 7, 2020

Coming to Dr Orfaly is The best decision I could have made. I didn’t have a dentist for years and they saw me when I had an emergency. Now I am getting all of my dental work here, perfect caps, bridges and hygiene. I highly recommend Dr Orfaly and his staff.

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Mica Bolotin
October 28, 2020

After having a negative experience with a filling with a past dentist, I was nervous to go to a new dentist with tooth pain. Dr. Orfaly and team were very understanding and knowledgable when walking me through my options for a cracked tooth. 10/10 would recommend due to their professionalism, attention to detail, and level of care. Thanks team!

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Ashley Spencer
April 1, 2021

Dr Orfaly is the best dentist around! I have alot of anxiety around going to the dentist & Dr Orfaly always makes sure to check in to see how I'm doing & is so nice. If a referral is needed to a specialist, he makes the call for you & gets you an appt quickly (mine was even the same day) I love how they book you with the same dental hygienist for all cleanings.. Adds another level of comfort... Shoutout to mine, Kathy!

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