The words root canal may conjure up negative feelings. But, what exactly is a root canal, and is it really all that bad?

Patients who complain of a painful toothache, sharp pain when chewing or biting, or swollen and painful gums may need a root canal because the pain indicates the interior of the tooth is infected.

A root canal is a treatment to save and repair an infected tooth instead of removing it. The dentist cleans out the canals and root of the tooth, thus the term root canal.

“It’s usually cost-effective and a lot better to hang on to your own tooth,” Dr. Grant Hinze said.

Without treatment, the tooth could become even more infected and an abscess could form.

A root canal can usually be conducted in less than an hour in one visit. However, if the infection is serious, it can take two visits with time in between for the tooth to heal and ensure the infection is gone.

Local anesthetic is used so the procedure isn’t painful, Dr. Hinze said. Any pain after the procedure can usually be controlled with over-the-counter pain medication. Sometimes, an antibiotic may also need to be prescribed to help clear up the infection.

Advances in technology have made the root canal less painful and more effective. Dr. Hinze uses a tool made of titanium, which is strong and flexible, to clean out the infection inside the tooth. Each tooth can have between one and three canals, and he has even seen some teeth with four canals!

Automated instruments and laser technology have also made the root canal procedure less painful and more effective than it was years ago.

After the canal or canals are cleaned, a filling and crown will be needed to repair the tooth.

Sometimes, Dr. Hinze will realize during the root canal that a tooth can’t be saved. If that’s the case, the tooth will have to be pulled, and an implant or bridge may be needed.

Dr. Hinze said the earlier a decayed tooth is treated, the more likely it will be that the tooth can be saved. So, if you notice any tooth pain, call us right away! Once the decay goes below the bone, the tooth cannot be restored.

A root canal is a fairly common procedure. Some days, no root canals are performed at Grant Hinze DDS, but on other days as many as four have been conducted!

Call us today at 995-5331 if you have a toothache or have questions about root canals.