Root Canals

Are there two more scary words in the English language than “root canal"? We understand root canals have a bad reputation, mostly stemming from the way dentistry used to be performed. Fortunately, root canal therapy today is not all that complicated or scary.

Center for Progressive Dentistry handles most root canal procedures right in our office. We offer compassionate care and sedation dentistry if needed. Luckily, most cases are straightforward and only require local anesthesia (“Novocaine”) for a comfortable, painless procedure.

How Do I Know if I Need a Root Canal?

The signs and symptoms that indicate the need for a root canal may vary. Persistent tooth pain which is severe, constant, and/or spontaneous, may be one of the more obvious symptoms of a tooth that needs root canal therapy. Localized swelling (“bubble on the gums”) and a dull aching may also be indicative of an infection that requires root canal treatment.

The recommendation for treatment will be made by Dr. Scardella. It is based on your symptoms, as well as a thorough evaluation of the tooth. A digital x-ray may help diagnose the problem. Not all teeth that hurt will need a root canal and not all teeth that need a root canal hurt. This is another reason regular exams are so important – they allow us to stay on top of any problems that are developing without your knowledge.

What Is a Root Canal?

Root canal therapy is a procedure to save a tooth that might otherwise need to be extracted. During the procedure, we remove inflamed or dead (necrotic) tissue (the pulp) from inside the root or roots of a tooth. The root canals inside the roots of the tooth are then cleaned, disinfected, and sealed. This may take one or two appointments to complete.

Does a Root Canal Hurt?

This is probably the most common question about root canals. The answer is no! Dr. Scardella gently numbs the tooth prior to starting the procedure.  Once the tooth is properly numb, there should be minimal sensation coming from the tooth.

Sometimes these appointments can be one or two hours long. To maximize your comfort, all of our dental chairs have a built-in massager, which you can request to be turned off or on. Please also feel free to bring headphones and listen to music during the procedure. Believe it or not, more patients fall asleep on their own during a root canal than any other procedure!

Should I See a Specialist?

There may be certain instances for which a specialist in root canal therapy (an endodontist) should perform your treatment. This is based on your dentist’s comfort level with the procedure and the complexity of the case.

For instance, if your tooth has already had a root canal and needs a retreatment, a referral for a specialist may be given. Your general dentist acts like the quarterback for your dental care and will perform treatment or refer treatment as necessary.

If you are experiencing tooth pain, please contact our office immediately. We try to set aside emergency time each day to help patients who have urgent dental needs.