Root Canal

close up of root canal with dr and patient

Root canals are dental procedures used to treat severely decayed teeth. They are necessary once tooth decay has eroded past the enamel and dentin layers to infect the dental pulp. Pulp infections cause the inside of the tooth to die and can spread to the jawbone or surrounding teeth if not treated. By removing decayed and infected tissue, root canals preserve the outer structure of the tooth and prevent the entire tooth from being lost. 

Root Canal Therapy steps

Did You Know?

Approximately 15 million root canals are performed every year, as stated by the American Endodontists Association. This means that an average of 41,000 root canals are performed across America every day!

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Discolored tooth surrounded by healthy teeth

Do I need a root canal?

You will need a root canal if you have a pulp infection, also known as pulpitis. Symptoms such as a discolored tooth, sudden and progressive pain, and gum swelling or irritation around the affected tooth can indicate a pulp infection is present. However, some pulp infections may not show any symptoms and can only be diagnosed with dental x-rays. Ultimately, a thorough examination by your Long Beach dentist is required to determine if you need a root canal. 

How is a root canal performed at my Long Beach dental office?

To perform a root canal, the first step is to access the inside of the tooth. To accomplish this, your dentist will make a tiny hole in the top of your tooth with a dental drill. Then, they will use a series of specialized root canal files to remove the infected tissue from the pulp chamber and root canals. This process also removes the nerve and blood vessels that make up the pulp tissue. After the pulp chamber and root canals have been cleaned out, they will be flushed out with an antimicrobial solution to prevent future infection. two posts in crown

The next step is to restore the remaining tooth structure. To provide stability and prevent future infection, a rubber-like material called gutta percha is used to fill the inside of the tooth. A small, metal post may also be placed to provide additional support. Once the inside of the tooth has been filled, the access hole will be closed with dental cement. Finally, a dental crown will be placed over the entire tooth in order to protect the tooth from damage and decay. 

Do root canals hurt?

During your root canal procedure, you will be completely anesthetized, meaning that your mouth will be numb. You can also request dental sedation to keep you relaxed as well. With that being said, root canals themselves rarely cause discomfort. Rather, the pain associated with root canals is actually a result of the inflammation from the pulp infection. 

Do I need to follow any special instructions after my root canal?

After your root canal, your dentist will recommend not to eat until your mouth regains feeling. Additionally, you may want to start out with soft foods and you should chew on the opposite side until your permanent restoration is placed. 

In the days following your root canal, you may experience some residual soreness. Again, this is caused by inflammation from the infection. Even though the infection has been removed, the inflammation takes a few days to dissipate. During this period, over the counter pain medications are usually sufficient. 

Meet our Endodontist, Dr. Darren Smolkin DDS