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Root Canal Therapy

Restoring Function and Comfort While Preserving Your Natural Tooth

Root Canal Therapy2023-12-01T05:37:00+00:00

Having lots of pain? Get to the root cause.

The inside story

We hear the phrase “root canal” a lot in dentistry, but what is it really? The branch of root canal treatment is also known as “endodontics”, meaning literally “inside the tooth”. The root canal system is the hollow space in the middle of the tooth where the nerve and blood supply to the tooth reside. When the nerve inside a tooth becomes injured, such as from deep decay, repeated dental work on the tooth, a large crack or fracture, or from physical trauma, it becomes inflamed, and may become infected and eventually die. This progression often results in intense pain that we commonly identify as a “toothache”. Unfortunately, if the injury to the nerve is too severe, it loses the capacity to heal itself, and if left untreated, may lead to dental abscess and chronic infections.

The root canal therapy is a treatment option that saves a tooth from requiring to be removed when its nerve becomes diseased or is dying. It is the alternative that allows patients to preserve their own natural tooth.

Common symptoms of nerve inflammation or infection requiring root canal therapy:

  • The tooth is extremely sensitive to hot or cold
  • The tooth hurts when biting or if pressure is applied
  • The pain is sharp and radiates up the side of the face
  • The pain is throbbing
  • The pain keeps you up at night, or wakes you up at night
  • The area is swollen
  • You have a bad taste or smell in your mouth

Sometimes, there are no obvious or noticeable symptoms to let you know there is a problem! Only regular dental visits and digital x-rays (as well as the expert eye of a dentist) can reveal the underlying trauma.

What is the process like?

First, a local anaesthetic, or freezing, is given so you will be comfortable throughout the procedure. The tooth being treated is then isolated with a specialized dental dam to prevent contaminations from saliva. A hole is drilled in the tooth to gain access to the inner root canal system, and the dentist is then able to remove and clean out the infected or dead nerve tissues with tools and disinfecting solutions. After the canals have been properly shaped and cleaned, the hollow space is filled with a root filling material, and the access cavity is sealed.

After a root canal treatment, the tooth becomes more brittle and is prone to splitting in half, in which case it becomes unrestorable and must be removed. The premolars and molars are especially prone to this type of catastrophic fracture, thus it is imperative that a dental crown be placed post-root canal therapy in order to protect and restore it to full function. The crown will also create a better seal to protect the root canal systems from re-infection due to invasion of bacteria. After restoration with a crown, the root canal treated tooth may continue to function like any other tooth.

The root canal misconception

We understand that root canal is likely not your favourite dental procedure, and if you have been worried over the common expression “as painful as a root canal,” you can relax! With advances in pain management in dentistry, this expression is simply a myth. Due to its complex nature, root canal treatment can require some endurance due to the length of the treatment, but it is typically no more painful than having a common dental filling.

The Chinook Smiles difference

Traditionally, the biggest challenge to the long term success of root canals therapies has been the inability to completely cleanse the root canal system. With modern imaging technologies, we now understand that the root canal systems are not only made up of large, distinct spaces within the tooth, as previously deduced from x-ray images. In reality, there is also a complex and intricate web of countless numbers of interconnecting microscopic channels. These channels cannot be cleaned mechanically with tools, and dentists must rely on disinfecting solutions to chemically disinfect them. 

At Chinook Smiles, we utilize the Fotona LightWalker laser’s world-leading SWEEPS (Shock Wave Enhanced Emission Photo-acoustic Streaming) technology to accomplish what was impossible before. Laser energy is converted into photoacoustic waves within the cleaning and debriding solutions introduced in the root canal system to achieve the highest level of disinfection. Treatments become faster, more predictable, with improved outcomes.


What are the aftercare requirements following a root canal?2023-11-13T05:46:18+00:00

Post-procedure, you might experience mild discomfort. It is recommended to avoid hard or chewy foods for a few days. Follow good oral hygiene practices and attend follow-up appointments as indicated by your Chinook Smiles dentists.

Is a root canal a permanent solution?2023-11-13T05:45:14+00:00

A successful root canal can last a lifetime. However, it is not uncommon for a root canal treated tooth to become re-infected. Therefore it is essential to maintain good oral hygiene and visit your dentist regularly for check-ups to ensure the treated tooth remains healthy.

How long does a root canal treatment take?2023-11-13T05:43:51+00:00

The length of a root canal procedure varies based on the number of canals that the tooth has and the complexity of its root canal system. Most procedures can be completed in a single visit, ranging from 40 minutes for a single rooted front tooth, to 2 hours for a molar with 4 or more canals. If a tooth is severely infected, it may be beneficial to access the root canal system and place medicament for disinfection during the first visit, and then return for a second appointment to finish cleaning and filling the root canals.

Will I feel pain during or after the root canal procedure?2023-11-13T05:39:24+00:00

With modern techniques and anesthetics, most patients report that they are very comfortable during the procedure. For the first few days after treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. This normal discomfort is to be expected, and can be relieved with over-the-counter or prescription medications. Your tooth may continue to feel slightly different from your other teeth for some time after your root canal treatment is completed. However, as with any dental treatment, if you have severe pain or pressure or pain that lasts more than a few days, call our office!


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