Root Canal Therapy in Shelton, CT

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For many people, the possibility of needing root canal therapy is a frightening idea. This fear might make sense if you’ve ever heard the phrase “I’d rather have a root canal” used to describe a painful or undesirable situation.

Despite our many advances in dentistry, people still believe that root canal therapy is one of the scariest and most painful dental procedures. However, this is not the case. Today, it is a fairly straightforward, usually painless procedure that can help prevent the loss of a tooth.

What is root canal therapy?

Although the outside of your tooth is made from a hard protective enamel, the inside contains a “pulp chamber” that is soft. This pulp is made up of blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. Your root canals are narrow passages that run from the pulp chamber down to the tip of your tooth root, connecting these blood vessels and nerves to your jawbone. 

When the pulp becomes damaged, it breaks down and bacteria begins to multiply inside your tooth. This can quickly lead to an infection, which may travel down the root and into your jaw. In addition to being very painful, this type of infection can lead to other complications, including bone loss around the tip of the root, swelling in other parts of your face, and abscesses at the tooth root. Abscesses are dangerous because they can continue to spread the infection to other areas of your body.

Once you have an infection inside your tooth, brushing and flossing can no longer repair the damage. When the tooth becomes severely decayed or infected, you may need root canal therapy to repair the damage and save the tooth. During the procedure, your dentist will remove the infected pulp and replace it with a rubbery filling. Then, they will shape the root canals and seal the tooth in order to prevent bacteria from getting inside and creating another infection.

How do I know if I need root canal therapy?

In many cases, the first indication that you might need root canal therapy is a severe toothache, or prolonged sensitivity to pressure and temperature. Your tooth may become discolored, or you might feel swelling and discomfort in your gum tissue near the infected tooth. However, sometimes there are no symptoms.

To determine whether you need root canal therapy, your dentist may perform various diagnostic procedures. These include:

  • Feeling the root by touching the surrounding tissue, to check for swelling or tenderness. 
  • Checking to see if the tooth moves in its socket.
  • Tapping the tooth to check for tenderness. 
  • Shining a light through the tooth to look for fractures. 
  • Asking the patient to bite down on a piece of plastic, to isolate where the pain is located. 
  • Taking radiographs to see the inside of the tooth
  • Testing the dental pulp for signs of infection.

Depending on how damaged your tooth is, your dentist may either recommend removing the tooth, or trying to save it.

What will happen during the procedure?

Root canal therapy can often be completed in just one visit to your dentist’s office, but this will vary depending on the severity of damage. After the procedure, there will be some followup treatments to fully restore the function and natural appearance of the tooth.

To prepare, your dentist will take an X-ray to see how far the infection has spread, and to map the shape of your root canals. If there are signs of infection in the surrounding bone, they may numb the area with a local anesthesia. Then, a rubber dam will be fitted around the tooth. This keeps the area dry, and free from saliva.

Once they are ready to begin, your dentist will drill a small hole in your tooth, which gives them access to the pulp chamber. Using a specialized set of tools, they will carefully remove all of the pulp and bacteria from inside the tooth, and re-shape your root canal chambers. Afterwards, your dentist will flush your tooth with a bleach solution in order to disinfect the opening and remove any debris. Finally, they will fill the empty root canal and pulp chamber with a rubbery substance. The access hole is then sealed with a filling to prevent future infection.

Restoration following root canal therapy

Usually a tooth that becomes infected also has other damage that needs to be repaired. You might have had multiple large fillings, or severe tooth decay that weakened the outside of the tooth and let an infection sneak inside. To prevent further damage, your dentist may recommend covering the tooth with a protective crown.

Recovery and aftercare

Although root canal therapy is generally not painful, you may feel some discomfort for a few days after surgery.This normally passes quickly, and can be treated with over-the-counter pain medication, such as Ibuprofen. Contact your dentist if you are still experiencing pain after five days.

Until your procedure is fully complete, avoid chewing with the tooth that is being repaired. Once the tooth is sealed and covered with a crown (if needed), you can start to use your tooth normally again.

Root canal therapy is an effective treatment that can save your tooth, and prevent infection from spreading. Oftentimes, a tooth saved by root canal therapy will last for the rest of your life.

Contact us today at 203-712-7726 to schedule your appointment.