Root Canals in Stone Ridge, VA
Root canal therapy, more commonly referred to as “root canal” is a common restorative dental procedure. In fact, according to the American Association of Endodontics, more than 15 million of these procedures are performed every year- which equates to about 41,000 per day.
Dr. Subha Yerabollu at Prime Family Dentistry in Stone Ridge, VA specializes in a variety of dental procedures, including root canal therapy. She strives to help her patients understand how to properly care for their teeth to ensure lifelong, strong smiles. She will also work with them to ensure that they fully understand the procedures they need.
In this article, we’ll explain more about root canal therapy including how the procedure works, reasons you may need one, and how long it typically takes.
How Does a Root Canal Work?
There are five steps involved in root canal therapy. These steps typically take place over 1 to 2 appointments, depending on the tooth that is being treated. Imaging can offer a good indication of how complex the procedure will be but the dentist won’t know for sure until they get started.
The first step is to administer local anesthesia. The area where the dentist is working will be numb, so you won’t feel anything. However, you will be conscious. If you do have dental anxiety, make sure to mention that during your consultation and we will include sedation in your treatment plan. Once the anesthesia has taken effect, we will get started.
Opening the tooth
A dental drill will be used to create a hole in the affected tooth, allowing the dentist to access the pulp chamber and tooth roots. The damaged pulp will be removed from the inside of the tooth. If you have an abscess, it will be drained.
Once all of the pulp has been removed, the inside of the tooth will be cleaned and disinfected, which destroys any remaining infection and bacteria. This will prevent the infection from coming back.
Shaping & filling the tooth
Tooth roots are narrow and oddly-shaped, making them difficult to fill. Therefore, they will be enlarged and shaped to increase the success of the procedure. Then, a material known as gutta-percha will be used to fill the tooth, which gives it some stability.
Placing a crown
Since root canal therapy makes the tooth more fragile, most dental professionals recommend getting a crown to protect the tooth. This is a “cap” that covers the entire tooth and may be made of porcelain, metal, or other materials.
Most dentists prefer to wait a few weeks before placing a crown to be sure that the infection is gone. If you do opt to get a crown, the tooth will be prepared and an impression will be taken of the tooth. This will be sent to the lab to fabricate the crown, which takes a few weeks- but you will have a temporary crown to wear while you wait so that the tooth is protected.
How do you know if you need a root canal?
There are several reasons that you may need a root canal, including:
If you have a tooth that is chipped or cracked, bacteria can get into it and cause it to become infected. When this happens, you may need root canal therapy.
Persisting chronic toothaches
While toothaches are common and can be caused by a variety of dental issues, a deep, persistent ache may indicate that you need root canal therapy.
In some cases, you may have an abscess, which manifests as a pus-filled pimple or boil near the affected tooth. Pus may drain from the abscess, causing an unpleasant smell or taste.
If not addressed early, the infection can get into the jawbone causing the affected tooth to become loose.
Swelling around infected tooth
Typically, when a tooth is infected, pus collects around it. This results in tenderness and swelling around the affected tooth. In some cases, the pus doesn’t drain, which may cause the jaw to swell.
Discoloration of tooth/surrounding gum
When bacteria gets into the pulp of the tooth, the blood flow is interrupted, which causes the pulp to die. This results in the tooth and the soft tissues around the affected tooth to become discolored.
If your tooth is sensitive to extremely hot or cold foods/beverages- especially if the pain lasts for more than a few seconds.
Pain when pressure is applied
If you have pain when eating or when the tooth is touched, chances are the nerves are damaged and you’ll need root canal therapy.
How long does a root canal take?
Most simple root canal procedures take an hour or less, but you’ll want to be prepared to spend at least an hour and a half in the chair. Depending on the complexity of the tooth, this procedure may require up to 2 appointments.
Does a root canal hurt?
Many years ago, root canal therapy could be painful. However, due to advancements in the dental field, this procedure is no more painful than a tooth extraction. Local anesthesia will be administered prior to the procedure to numb the area while we work. You may have some discomfort as the anesthesia wears off, but you should not have significant pain. If you do have pain, it’s important to contact the office right away.
Do You Need a Root Canal?
If you have a tooth that is infected and you think you may need root canal therapy, schedule your appointment with Dr. Yerabollu at Prime Family Dentistry in Stone Ridge, VA. She has the experience and expertise to help you determine what treatment is best for you and to ensure successful treatment no matter what.
Root Canal FAQs
Dr. Yerabollu and the team at Prime Family Dentistry get a lot of questions when it comes to dental procedures such as root canal therapy. Below we have provided answers to some of the most common questions we get.
You should not eat until the anesthesia wears off. If you eat while your mouth is still numb, you may bite your tongue, lips, or cheeks. Also, if you eat immediately following your procedure, you may damage the temporary filling or crown.
There are no specific rules about smoking following root canal therapy. However, it is important to note that smoking can affect recovery and may increase your risk of complications.
Since you are only given local anesthesia, you should be fine to drive following root canal therapy. If you require sedation, you will need to bring someone with you to drive you home after.
When the anesthesia has worn off, you may start eating soft foods such as peanut butter, pudding, frozen yogurt, bananas, cooked veggies, scrambled eggs, and other foods that are easy to chew. You’ll want to avoid foods that are sticky or hard to chew.
Typically, only local anesthesia is used for this procedure. This means that, while your mouth is numb, you will be conscious during the procedure. However, if you have dental anxiety, sedation options such as oral or IV may be offered. If this is the case, you’ll want to make sure that you have someone that can drive you home after the procedure and sit with you until the anesthesia wears off.