Root Canals from A to Z

If your dentist has told you that a root canal is in your future, you may be worried or anxious about the procedure. Many people believe this procedure will be painful and frustrating. However, the truth of the matter is that millions of root canals are done each year by a professional dentist in North Tonawanda. This procedure helps to relieve pain and ensure your teeth are healthy.
Modern endodontics is nothing like people expect. A root canal can be as simple as a routine filling and completed in one or two appointments, depending on the extent of damage to your tooth. A root canal is also often painless and extremely effective. It will not be long until you are biting, chewing, and smiling like old times.

Anatomy of a Tooth

On the inside of your tooth, beneath the enamel and a layer called dentin, is the tooth pulp. This tissue holds nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels which help to grow the root of your tooth while it is developing. Once a tooth is fully developed, it can exist without the pulp because the tissues around it provide the needed nourishment.
When is a Root Canal Indicated?
A root canal by a dentist in North Tonawanda is required when the pulp of the tooth becomes infected or inflamed. This can happen for many reasons including a crack or chip in the tooth, deep decay within the tooth, or repeated procedures on the tooth. An injury to a tooth can also cause damage to the tooth pulp, even if there is no visible crack or chip. When a pulp infection or inflammation is allowed to grow without treatment, it may lead to an abscess and extreme pain.

Treatment Questions

It is always a good idea to ask your dentist any questions you have before agreeing to treatment. We have come up with a list to start that process for you. Consider any other questions that come up for you and add them when you ask questions.

  • Is the root canal my only option for the tooth?
  • Is it possible that my tooth will recover and the root canal will not be needed?
  • What caused the pulp of the tooth to die?
  • What are all my options for the tooth?
  • What happens if I do not get a root canal?
  • Should I skip the root canal and instead get an implant?
  • Will the infection spread to my other teeth or the jawbone?
  • How predictable is the root canal treatment?
  • What experience do you have with root canals?

Symptoms Indicating Endodontics Treatment

If you are concerned you have an issue that will require root canal therapy; there are a few different signs that you should look for. These include pain, tenderness to the touch, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, swelling, discoloration of the tooth, drainage, and tenderness to the lymph nodes and nearby gum tissues.

Dental Assessment

Do keep in mind however that sometimes no symptoms will be present, yet there is an underlying problem in the tooth. We have included those things below, so you understand how the assessment works and why the dentist comes to the decision that they do.


An abscess will typically be seen on an x-ray. It is, in the simplest of terms, a hole in the jawbone. It will show up as a dark patch on the x-ray, as bone will avoid growing in that area. Bone does not grow around an infection, and an infection often comes from the tip of the root. This is where everything is spilling out from the dead tissue found in the tooth.

Lingering Pain

Your dentist will ask you about how your tooth responds to hot and cold temperatures. They will ask about sensitivity to cold water and how long that pain lasts afterward. This offers a way to determine if the pain is lingering or not. Lingering pain lasts a long time, while the non-lingering pain will stop. If the pain goes away, this may mean that the pulp is alive enough to recover. However, if the pain lasts over an hour, the nerve may be dead and recovery may not be an option.

Referred Pain

Referred pain is when the pain is not only in the tooth but perhaps in the ear, jaw, or other teeth. This can also indicate an abscess is present.

Positional Pain

The dentist will ask you questions about whether the pain is worse when lying down or standing up. It may also get worse when you run in place or better when you are in certain positions. This also can point toward an abscess and a tooth whose nerve is dead.

Spontaneous Pain

Pain that is brought on by a hot or cold drink is something that may be reversible, depending on the strength and duration of the pain. However, if the pain occurs while nothing is happening, it is often a symptom of a tooth that is dead.

Gum Fistula

A fistula is a bump that looks like a small pimple and may be red, white, or yellow. A gum fistula is brought about because of an infection as blood, pus, or other infectious materials are trying to get out of the gums. However, a fistula can occur near a tooth that is not the actual problem, so the dentist must be sure to delve into more questions to determine the exact problem.

Determining Need for a Root Canal

There are a number of different things that a dentist will use to determine if you need a root canal. You may wonder how long you can wait before you get the root canal and the truth is that the answer is difficult to determine. The infection can get worse with more swelling and pressure as you continue to wait.
Other things that can indicate a continued infection are a bad taste in the mouth or the feeling of the mouth going numb. This can mean the infection is spreading, which is dangerous. The infection can spread to organs like the heart, something that caused many deaths in years past.
Your dentist will prescribe you antibiotics for your infection. Once you have started these antibiotics, you may have more time to schedule the root canal. If you are on antibiotics before the root canal, this can also mean it will be less painful, and the procedure will be easier for the dentist.

How a Root Canal Helps

Your dentist in North Tonawanda will remove the infected or inflamed pulp. They will then clean and shape the inside of the root canal, which is then filled and sealed up. After this is complete, a dentist will place a crown or other restorative dentistry option onto the tooth to restore it back to its normal function. Once this is complete, your tooth will act just like any other tooth in your mouth.
Concerns About Pain During and After
Endodontic procedures are often performed to relieve the pain of toothaches, typically caused by pulp infection or inflammation. In modern times, many patients find the experience completely comfortable.
After the root canal therapy has been completed, you may find that your tooth feels sensitive. This is even more likely if there was an infection or pain before the procedure took place. However, your dentist can prescribe a pain medication or suggest over-the-counter medications to relieve this pain. You should always follow your dentist’s recommendations on this to the letter.
You should also be aware that the tooth may feel strange for a while after the root canal therapy is complete. The exception to this is if you experience severe pain, pressure, or pain that lasts more than a few days. If this is the case, you should immediately contact your dentist in North Tonawanda.

The Root Canal Procedure

A root canal is often done during one or two dentist visits and will consist of the following steps:
Your endodontist will examine and x-ray your tooth and then administer a local anesthetic. Once the tooth is numbed, the dentist will place a protective sheet over the area, which allows them to isolate the tooth with the problems. This also keeps the area clean and free from saliva while the procedure is done.

The dentist then makes an opening in the crown of the tooth. Tiny instruments will be used to clean the pulp from the pulp chamber and the root canals. They are also used to shape the space for proper filling.

Once space is shaped and clean, the endodontist will fill the root canal with a biocompatible material, sometimes a material that is rubber-like and called gutta-percha. This material is placed with an adhesive cement to ensure that there is a complete sealing of the root canals. In many cases, the dentist will use a temporary filling to close the opening. That will be removed later before the tooth is restored.

After your last visit with the endodontist, you will return to the dentist where a crown or other restoration is placed on the tooth to restore its function and ensure it is protected.

In the case of a tooth with an insufficient structure that would hold the crown in place, your dentist might place a post inside of the tooth.

Root Canal Pricing

The cost of a root canal is going to vary largely depending on which tooth is experiencing problems and how complex those problems are. If the tooth is a molar, the process is often more difficult so the fee will also be higher. If you have dental insurance, this often covers a portion of the total cost.
In general, treatment and restoration of the tooth are less expensive than an extraction. An extracted tooth will require a bridge or implant to restore normal chewing function and prevent nearby teeth from shifting and moving. These procedures are rather expensive and costlier than a root canal treatment will be.

Post Root Canal Treatment

Your root canal in North Tonawanda will include a number of instructions from the dentist afterward. You will be asked to avoid biting or chewing with the treated tooth until it has had full restoration done by your dentist. When the tooth is unrestored, it is more likely to fracture. That makes it critical to get a full restoration as soon as you are able. You will also want to practice good oral hygiene which includes regular brushing, flossing, checkups, and cleanings.
Most teeth that have had a root canal will last just as long as other teeth. In rare cases, the tooth may have trouble healing or have continued pain. Occasionally, the tooth may become painful and diseased months after treatment. In these rare cases, redoing the root canal is a procedure which can often save the offending tooth.
Deep decay, new trauma, or a cracked or broken filling can allow new infection into your tooth. In some instances, the endodontist may even discover narrow or curved canals that were not properly treated the first time you had a root canal.

Treatment Based on Tooth

In most cases, a tooth can be treated and restored. However, an occasional tooth may not be capable of being saved. This happens when the root canals are inaccessible, the roots are very fractured, the tooth does not have the requisite bone support, or the tooth cannot be restored. However, modern endodontics makes it possible for most teeth to be saved, even if the option would not have been there a few years ago. When a root canal does not work, endodontic surgery may save the tooth instead.
Contact our North Tonawanda Dentist Office for Root Canals
Here at Wheatfield Family Dentistry, we would be happy to speak with you about your dental options. We can set up an appointment for a consultation or answer your questions via phone. Contact us at 716-694-1777 or visit our online contact form.


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