When decay or trauma cause an infection in the pulp, or living center of a tooth, a root canal procedure can save the natural tooth from having to be extracted, thus preventing the need for dental implants or other synthetic solutions. Most patients with infections first realize it when they have sensitivity to temperature, pain in the specific tooth or gums, or visible injury with swelling.
A root canal procedure is done under anesthesia and the tooth is completely isolated with a rubber dam. The infected pulp is carefully removed, and the roots of the tooth are cleaned and sealed. The missing tooth structure is then replaced with filling material. Any posterior tooth with a root canal needs a crown to protect the tooth from fracture due to biting forces. Front teeth do not always require a crown as the hole to access the pulp can be very small.
Do root canals hurt?
While an infected root can be quite painful, the procedure to address the cause of the pain is painless. During the root canal procedure you are completely numb and will feel nothing. With new imaging technology, we can see the exact trouble spots and direct our cleaning efforts with immense precision.
While the pain is usually significantly reduced after the root canal procedure, there can still be soreness and pain from the infection that lingers for a few days while the infection and inflammation resolves.