Root Canal Treatment in Flint, MI
Lindemann Root Canal Specialists perform root canals in Flint, MI. Call 810-732-7900 to learn more and schedule your appointment.
A root canal is designed to save a badly damaged or decayed tooth. Although root canals have a reputation as a fearsome procedure, modern techniques have made this common endodontic treatment nearly pain-free. Here is what you need to know.
What Is a Root Canal?
Root canal treatment is one type of endodontic treatment. “Endodontic treatment” means treating the inside of the tooth. During a root canal, the innermost tissue, called the pulp, is removed from the tooth. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue and creates the surrounding hard tissues of the tooth during development. Once a tooth is fully mature it can survive without the pulp, because the tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it. Infection or irritation of the pulp is what often causes symptoms that let you know something is not right with the tooth. Teeth can have numerous root canal systems, which are filled with pulp tissue. All canal systems of a tooth are treated during a single procedure.
How Do I Know if I Need a Root Canal?
Sometimes, there are no obvious symptoms that a tooth needs a root canal. Your dentist may see something on an x-ray and recommend you see an endodontist to have it checked out.
However, in many cases, you will experience some or all of the following:
- Tooth discoloration
- Pain, especially when chewing
- Swelling in the gums
- Temperature sensitivity in the tooth
If the tooth is not treated, an abscess (infection) is likely to occur. This can cause draining of the infection into your mouth, severe swelling, intense pain, and/or further dental damage. Over time, the infection can get worse and spread.
What Should I Expect?
First, Dr. Lindemann will have a discussion with you about your concerns and symptoms. A digital x-ray will be taken of the tooth and he will evaluate the tooth. If a root canal is needed, he will ensure that your tooth is completely numb using local anesthetic. Then, he will create a small opening through the crown of the tooth and down into the root canals, which exposes the pulp tissue. All of the damaged or infected tissue is removed and the canals are thoroughly cleaned. He will then gently reshape the canal with a series of instruments and seal the canal with a biocompatible material. A temporary access filling is placed for you to use until you return to your referring dentist for a crown or other final restoration.
Is a Root Canal Painful?
Root canal treatment causes no more discomfort than any other dental procedure. In fact, because the tooth may be painful to begin with, it would not be unusual to feel much better as soon as the treatment is over. It is normal to have some minor discomfort after the numbing medication wears off, which responds well to over-the-counter pain relievers.
The tooth may be a bit sensitive for a few days, and you should try not to chew directly on it until you receive your crown or final restoration. Most people feel completely normal within three days. If you do experience any significant pain, call us immediately for assistance.
What Else Can Be Done?
Unfortunately, if you need a root canal, no other treatment will suffice except for having the tooth extracted. A missing tooth can be replaced with a dental implant, a partial denture, or a dental bridge, but ultimately none of these solutions is as good as your own natural tooth. If it is possible to save the tooth with a root canal, this is the best solution.
How Much Time Should I Take Off of Work for a Root Canal?
You can return to work or school immediately after your root canal procedure, although you may continue to experience numbness at the treatment site for a few hours.
Are You Awake During a Root Canal?
Yes, you will be awake during your root canal treatment, but the tooth and the soft tissue surrounding it will be numbed to ensure that you are comfortable throughout the procedure.
Can I Eat After a Root Canal?
Yes, you can eat after a root canal. We ask that you wait at least 30-40 minutes after the procedure to eat (to allow the temporary filling to fully harden) although we generally advise you to wait until the local anesthetic injections have worn off so you don’t bite your cheek or tongue. Your tooth may be sensitive and sore after your root canal treatment, so it’s a good idea to avoid foods that are hot, hard, chewy, or crunchy. Instead, eat soft foods like soup and applesauce or foods that require little chewing, like eggs.
Why Do I Need to Go Back to My General Dentist After My Root Canal?
It is important that the chewing portion of your tooth is protected after having a root canal. This often means a crown needs to be placed on the tooth. If the tooth already has a well-fitting crown, a simple restoration to seal the crown may be needed. It is important to discuss with your general dentist how best to finalize the restoration of the tooth.
Can I Have my Tooth Extracted Instead of Getting a Root Canal?
You can have your tooth extracted instead of getting a root canal, but saving your natural tooth is preferable. Many patients believe that extracting their tooth is easier, less painful, or more affordable, but once your tooth has been extracted, it must be replaced or it can compromise the health of the adjacent teeth and your jawbone. When we save your natural tooth, it helps you maintain your oral health and prevents the need for a costly restoration.