The bacteria in the mouth can be hazardous when combined with the remaining food particles. You will likely have stuck food particles in your mouth if you fail to brush, rinse, and floss your teeth as regularly as the dentist recommends. The combination of food and bacteria is the leading cause of decay and severe oral problems like gingivitis and periodontitis. When bacteria enter the root of your teeth, it could cause an infection of the pulp, necessitating an extraction. An infected pulp could require removal to prevent further infection of other teeth and salvage the affected natural tooth.

A root canal entails the removal of an infected pulp to stop bacterial infection and maintain healthy and robust natural teeth. Once done, the dentist seals the tooth to protect it from reinfection. Our general dentists at Washington Dental can recommend a root canal if they are confident that removing an infected pulp will resolve the dental problem you are experiencing. We will explain everything you need to know about the treatment process to help you make an informed decision. Thus, you can count on our skills and experience if you have a persistent toothache or other signs of an infected tooth root in Lomita.

Reasons You Could Need Root Canal

General dentists have the skills to diagnose and treat some of the dental and oral issues you experience. You are advised to visit your dentist regularly, even when you do not have signs of an oral or dental problem. That way, your dentist can conduct an in-depth exam of your teeth, look for indications of a problem, and recommend ways to maintain good oral health. Some symptoms of a dental problem, like an infection, can go unnoticed for days, weeks, or even months. If left untreated, they escalate into a significant issue that requires expensive treatment.

Oral infections start slowly. Before you know it, major oral and dental problems need severe treatment. Working closely with an experienced general dentist could help you avoid some of the issues that result from bacterial infections. For example, regular cleaning and flossing could prevent or reduce the likelihood of a bacterial infection in your mouth. Due to that, you could protect yourself from severe infections like periodontitis and treatments like root canals.

A root canal is a treatment recommended for dental patients with a bacterial infection at the root of their tooth. It is an invasive treatment that requires assessing the tooth's root to remove the infected pulp and treating the surrounding area to prevent further infection. A tooth’s pulp could become infected if a tooth cavity remains untreated for a long time. It could also occur when you retain a damaged or cracked tooth without treatment or replacement.

Oral infections occur when food particles remain in the mouth. These particles can be removed by brushing and flossing. If they remain, they combine with the bacteria in the mouth to produce an acid that could slowly eat into your tooth's enamel, causing cavities. When you brush and floss your teeth, food particles could remain stuck in hard-to-reach areas. You could also have the same problem if you do not practice oral hygiene by brushing and flossing daily. The dangerous bacteria affect your teeth differently. Thus, you could have one infected tooth's root or several infected teeth at a time.

Dentists recommend brushing the teeth at least twice daily or after every meal. You must also floss once a day to remove any remaining food particles between your teeth. Have your damaged or cracked teeth treated, as they form good breeding sites for bacteria. You should combine that routine with regular dental cleanings to remove any buildup on your teeth that could cause an infection.

Some of the Indications of Tooth Pulp Infection

When the dangerous bacteria lingers on your tooth for a lengthy period, it can spread to the root, infecting its pulp. In most cases, people with infected pulps do not know their tooth is infected until it is too late. The signs of a tooth pulp infection vary from one patient to the next and could include the following:

Persistent Pain

The most typical indication of a dental problem is persistent pain that does not go away even with pain medicine. If you are experiencing pain in one of your teeth, its root could be infected, necessitating a root canal. The pain could also spread to your face, jaw, or surrounding teeth. You should visit your dentist immediately for diagnosis and treatment.

Sensitivity to Cold or Heat

Sensitivity is also a common indication of a dental problem. If you experience pain or discomfort when you eat or drink something cold or hot, it could indicate an infection in one or more of your teeth. The pain could linger for several seconds.

A Swollen Gum

A tooth infection can also manifest through swollen gums. When an oral infection occurs, pus can accumulate in the infected area. That could cause the area to appear puffy, become swollen, and become tender. A swollen or puffy gum could indicate you need treatment for an infected pulp.

A Pimple on the Gum

You could also develop a boil or pimple on an infected gum. The pimple could accumulate pus from the infection. When the pimple drains, it could cause an unpleasant smell or taste.

Swollen Jaw

A tooth infection could cause your jaw to swell. The swelling could be accompanied by pain or not, resulting from pus accumulation. If the pus does not drain from the infected tooth, it could cause the jaw to swell.

A Discolored Tooth

A tooth infection could also cause the tooth to appear darker than the rest of your teeth. A naturally-healthy tooth will have a distinct white color. Dental problems sometimes result in a color change. The color change could occur due to a reduced blood supply to the tooth because of the infection.

Pain When You Apply Pressure

An affected tooth could become painful only when you chew or bite down. It could be because the nerves surrounding the tooth are damaged.

Cracked or Chipped Tooth

A cracked or chipped tooth can quickly accumulate food particles. Stuck food particles in chipped or cracked teeth are hard to remove through regular brushing and flossing. These teeth become easy targets for bacterial infections. The infection can quickly spread to the teeth’ roots, resulting in an infected pulp. Thus, if you injure your tooth after a fall or when playing sports and have not had it treated for a long time, it could be time to have it checked for an infection.

Loose Tooth

An infection can eventually cause the tooth to become loose and unsalvageable. The pus brought on by the infection softens the supporting bones and tissues, eventually causing you to lose your tooth.

Preparing for a Root Canal

If you have one or more of the symptoms of an infected tooth, you should visit your dentist’s office immediately. Your dentist will examine your teeth and mouth to determine the problem and any other oral or dental issues you could have. They can recommend an x-ray of the affected area to determine the extent of the infection. That helps the dentist select the best treatment option for you.

If your tooth’s pulp is infected and the infection is likely to spread to other areas, they will recommend a root canal. This means the dentist will remove the infected pulp, clean and treat the surrounding area, and seal it to prevent further infection. They will also recommend a dental care routine that could help you prevent oral infections in the future.

But before your treatment starts, a skilled general dentist will ensure you understand what the treatment entails and what to expect before, during, and after the procedure. If you have questions regarding the health of your teeth and this particular treatment, you should ask your dentist before they start the process. Here are some ways you can prepare yourself for a root canal:

  • Ensure you take all the medications your dentist recommends. For example, you could be required to take anti-inflammatory and antibiotic medicines a few hours or days before the treatment. Your dentist can recommend this if the infection in your tooth is severe.
  • If you smoke or consume tobacco in any other way, it is advisable not to have it before having a root canal. Tobacco can interfere with a body’s capacity to heal after treatment. Your dentist will advise you not to smoke for a few days before the treatment. If possible, you can stop smoking altogether.
  • Ensure that you consume a balanced meal. This will help quicken your recovery process. Additionally, your dentist's local anesthesia before the procedure will numb your mouth for several hours. It means that you will not be able to eat for a while. A healthy meal will keep you energized before you can eat again.

The Treatment Process

Root canal treatment does not need to take a long time. In most cases, it takes only one appointment with a general dentist. But if the infection on your tooth is severe, it could take two appointments. Typically, the treatment process in one session lasts between 30 and 60 minutes. If the tooth is larger and has numerous roots, it could take 90 minutes.

Once your dentist prepares you for the treatment process, they will take an x-ray of the infected tooth to determine its actual condition. An X-ray gives the dentist a view of the roots and pulp of the tooth, areas that they cannot see through pure observation. The picture will help them understand the extent of the infection in your tooth and whether a root canal is the ideal treatment option. The steps that could follow once the dentist starts the treatment process are:

Administration of Anesthesia

A root canal is invasive. It can be painful and uncomfortable. That is why dentists perform it under anesthesia. First, your dentist will administer local anesthesia to numb the affected tooth and its surroundings. They can also give you some medications to help with relaxation, like oral sedatives, nitrous oxide, and IV sedation. Sedation is necessary if you are anxious and will likely remain restless throughout treatment.

Placement of a Dental Dam

Before your dentist begins the treatment, they will place a small dental dam over the treatment area. The dam will isolate the affected tooth and keep the treatment site dry. That makes it easier for them to continue with the procedure.

Pulp Removal

The dentist will make a small incision in the infected tooth’s crown to access its pulp. They will use a small dental instrument to remove the blood vessels, nerves, and tissues underneath the infected tooth. These constitute the tooth’s pulp.

Shaping Canals

After removing the pulp, the dentist will clean the chamber that holds the pulp and root canals to remove any harmful bacteria that could continue the infection. They will then disinfect the area and shape it. The dentist will then fill the empty root canal with gutta-percha. It is a highly flexible material used in dentistry.

After shaping and filling the canals, the dentist will seal the tooth. They will use a dental filling on the tooth to prevent the penetration of harmful bacteria.

Final Restoration

If need be, the dentist will restore your tooth using a dental crown. The importance of that is to cover the treated part and correct your bite. Your dentist will make a customized dental crown for this purpose. Once it is ready, they will replace the filling with a more permanent and better-looking crown. You could receive the crown on the same day as your treatment. If not, your dentist will schedule another appointment for dental crown installation.

What To Expect During and After a Root Canal

Pain is the greatest fear for many patients before root canal treatment. But, since you will be under local anesthesia and possibly sedation, you will not experience any pain or discomfort during treatment.

Additionally, your tooth will not be in any pain after treatment. Remember that the treatment entails removing the infected part of your tooth. An infected tooth is extremely painful. Once the infected part is terminated, you will not be in any pain. You could experience immediate relief after the treatment. Contact your dentist immediately if you experience pain or throbbing after the procedure.

But you could experience sensitivity after the treatment. The sensitivity could last a few days after the treatment. You can manage it with some pain medicine. In most cases, the side effects of a root canal diminish within a week or two.

Since root canal treatment is performed in an outpatient setting, you should plan how to return home after treatment. Sometimes it is safe to have someone drive you to your dentist’s office and pick you up after the procedure. If you had nitrous oxide or local anesthesia before treatment, it should wear out a few minutes after the procedure. In that case, you can drive yourself home. But if you had IV or oral sedation, it could take time before you could recover enough to drive safely. You can call someone to help you get back home.

Once at home, you can take the entire day off to rest before resuming normal activities. You could return to work the next day. But if you were sedated during the procedure, you will need an extra day to recover fully. Even so, give your body time to heal before engaging in strenuous activities.

General dentists or endodontists can perform a root canal. An endodontist specializes in root canals. Your general dentist can perform a root canal treatment on the front teeth since they only have a few roots. If your case involves the back teeth or is seemingly complex, they can refer you to an endodontist.

The Benefits of Undergoing Root Canal Treatment

General dentists recommend root canal treatment for its several benefits. Here are a few you should be aware of:

  • A root canal will help prevent the spread of infection to the surrounding teeth. Once the infected part is removed and the area is disinfected and sealed, the harmful bacteria stop lingering on and spreading from it.
  • A root canal offers instant relief from the symptoms expected from a tooth infection, including pain, sensitivity, and swelling.
  • The treatment minimizes the chance of damage to your jawbone since it stops the infection from spreading to other parts of your mouth and body.
  • It helps you keep your natural tooth by eliminating the possibility of extraction.

Note: Root canal treatments are highly effective and very safe.

Can the Procedure Fail?

Even with a high success rate, a root canal treatment can fail. Some people have reported complications after undergoing the procedure. That is likely to happen if the tooth is severely damaged and cannot be saved by a root canal. Here are indications of a failed root canal:

Persistent Pain

You could experience pain that worsens with time after the treatment. Remember that a root canal should eliminate the pain associated with a tooth infection. Since the infected part is removed, you should not experience pain in the treated tooth.

Swollen Gums

Once the infection on your tooth is treated and the infected part removed, the swelling on your gums should subside. If your gums start or continue to swell, the problem could necessitate an urgent visit to your dentist.

Drainage or Pus

A root canal treatment includes cleaning out the infection from the affected part. It entails removing any pus and drainage that could have accumulated due to the infection. You should visit your dentist immediately if you notice more pus or drainage after the treatment.

Discolored Tooth

If your tooth starts to discolor after a root canal treatment, it could be a sign of another issue that requires the immediate attention of your dentist.

Boil Pimple on the Gum

A boil or a pimple could indicate a bacterial infection on the treated part. In that case, you should have it checked by your dentist immediately.

Sinus Problems

Bacterial infections mainly cause sinusitis. If you experience a stuffy or blocked nose that makes breathing through the nose difficult, it could indicate that your root canal treatment was unsuccessful.

If your root canal treatment has failed, your experienced dentist will explore other options.

The Recovery Period

Healing from a root canal treatment can take a week or less. If the procedure goes well, you will have a smooth recovery. You could feel discomfort in the treated area but should overcome it after a few days. You could also manage any discomfort with pain medications. Your dentist can prescribe some pain medicines or require you to buy some over-the-counter.

You can eat immediately after the numbness in your mouth wears out. Anesthesia takes only a few hours to wear off. Thus, it will take a short time to eat something. But start with soft foods like mashed potatoes, yogurt, and pasta for the first few days. You can introduce more solid foods as your teeth become accustomed to them.

Be mindful when chewing or biting with the tooth after a root canal. You can use your other teeth until that tooth heals.

Find a Skilled General Dentist Near Me

You could lose one or several natural teeth to an oral infection. When one tooth becomes infected, treating it immediately before it spreads to other teeth and other parts of your mouth is advisable. Most dentists recommend a root canal as the safest and most effective treatment for an infected tooth. The therapy entails skillfully removing the infected part of the tooth and cleaning the surrounding area to prevent further infection.

Only a skilled general dentist can offer quality root canal treatment. That is why we recommend our team at Washington Dental. Because of our skills and experience, you can expect a smooth treatment process and effective results. Call us at 310-326-5183 if you have signs of an infected tooth in Lomita. Let us thoroughly examine your tooth to recommend the best treatment option.