Root Canals

Root canals, also known as endodontic treatments, are dental procedures performed to save a severely damaged or infected tooth. Contrary to the popular belief that root canals are painful and daunting, a root canal can be a great way to alleviate pain and save a tooth. You should consider yourself lucky if the dentist recommends root canal therapy, because it means you get to keep your natural tooth!

With modern tools and sedation dentistry options, root canal therapy is faster and more comfortable than ever. In fact, our experienced Bethesda dentists often perform the procedure in just one visit. Both Dr. Deb and Dr. Rob have undergone hours of continuing education to make the root canal process as comfortable as possible for patients. Continue reading to learn more about this routine procedure!

What Is a Root Canal?

To understand root canal therapy, you must first understand the structure of a tooth. Inside the hard outer layers of your tooth lives a system of tissues, nerves, and blood cells called the pulp, which runs through root canals in the tooth. These canals allow blood to nourish and remove waste from the tooth.

A root canal becomes necessary when a deep cavity or fracture extends into the pulp and allows bacteria to invade the inner chambers of the tooth. This can be caused by deep decay, trauma, cracks, or other types of damage. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the surrounding tissues and lead to more serious oral health concerns.

In these cases, Dr. Deb or Dr. Rob can often save a tooth by cleaning the canals, filling them with an inert substance, and sealing the tooth with a dental crown. Following a root canal, your original tooth roots remain intact, which is great for your bite, jawbone, and other teeth.

How Do I Know if I Need a Root Canal?

Not every patient who needs root canal therapy will exhibit symptoms. Sometimes, Dr. Deb or Dr. Rob will identify an infected tooth during a routine exam. With this in mind, these issues may indicate that a root canal is necessary:*

If a tooth is displaying any of the above symptoms but has already undergone a root canal, it may be time to consider dental implants. Implants are durable and natural-looking, and can effectively replace the damaged tooth in form and function. When crafted by a qualified dentist, implants can last for many years (even a lifetime). If you’re unsure whether a root canal or implant is the best choice, Dr. Deb or Dr. Rob can help you decide after a thorough consultation.

How Is a Root Canal Performed?

To perform a root canal, Dr. Deb or Dr. Rob will first remove the infected tissue from the pulp chamber. Your dentist will then apply irrigation solutions, such as sodium hypochlorite, to disinfect the canals and get rid of any remaining debris. From there, we’ll fill the tooth with a biocompatible material before sealing it (often with a dental crown) to provide additional protection and strength.

Despite the misconception that root canals are uncomfortable, patients usually find the procedure relatively pain-free. This is because we use advanced sedation dentistry techniques to keep you in a state of relaxation – sometimes even a deep sleep! – throughout the entire procedure. During your consultation, Dr. Deb or Dr. Rob can recommend a sedation dentistry method that suits your unique needs.

What Is the Root Canal Recovery Period Like?

The root canal recovery period is typically brief.* You may experience some soreness or swelling, but this shouldn’t last longer than a week or two. We sometimes prescribe pain medication or antibiotics; alternatively, you may be instructed to take over-the-counter medications. We advise you to stick to soft foods (such as mashed potatoes or applesauce) during the first few days of your recovery and to reintroduce solid foods as you heal.

After the procedure, you will be given personalized aftercare instructions, which you should follow closely. If you have any questions during this period, feel free to reach out to our friendly team.

To learn more about the root canal procedure or schedule an appointment with one of our skilled dentists, please contact our practice today!

Medical Resources*

American Association of Endodontics

Cleveland Clinic