Stop Tooth Infection In Its Tracks
If you’re experiencing frequent toothaches and discoloration in your gums, you may have an infected tooth. In this case, undergoing root canal therapy may help.
Root canal therapy may sound daunting to some patients, especially if you’re unaware of the details of the procedure. Dr. Lavi and our expert dental team will ensure you have a full understanding of what’s to come. Read on to learn when a root canal treatment may be necessary and our commitment to making your treatment as painless as possible.
What Is Root Canal Therapy?
Root canal therapy is necessary when bacteria enter the innermost part of your tooth and cause an infection. To better understand this treatment, it helps to be aware of the three parts of your tooth:
- Enamel: The hard outer layer of the tooth.
- Dentin: The thick layer of tissue underneath the enamel.
- Pulp: The center of your tooth where nerve endings and blood vessels reside.
Untreated cavities or cracks in your teeth can often lead to infections in your root canal. Root canal therapy is a last line of defense to get rid of the infection and save your tooth from extraction.
When Is Root Canal Therapy Necessary?
Root canal therapy is necessary when you have a tooth infection. Symptoms of tooth infection are serious, as untreated infections can spread and put your overall health at risk.
Signs that you may need root canal therapy include:
- Severe pain in the affected tooth
- Darkening of the affected tooth
- Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
- Small bump (fistula) on the gums near the affected tooth
- Swelling and tenderness in the gums near the area of tooth pain
Root Canal Treatment Process
Root canal therapy can usually be completed in as few as two visits to our Studio City or Los Angeles office. You’ll first attend an initial consultation with Dr. Lavi, where he’ll create your customized treatment plan. He’ll do this by assessing your teeth and oral health to determine if root canal therapy can save your infected tooth. During this time, Dr. Lavi will also discuss your preference for dental sedation.
Dr. Lavi will first administer a local anesthetic to ensure you don’t feel any pain during the procedure. He’ll then place a dental dam over the affected tooth before gently drilling a small hole to access the tooth’s pulp.
After removing the infected material, Dr. Lavi will fill the root canal with a material called gutta-percha. He’ll then use a filling to restore the tooth from where he drilled the hole. If your tooth can’t support a filling, Dr. Lavi will place a post to add stabilization.
You’ll return to our dental office at a later date to receive your customized dental crown, which will restore your tooth’s functionality while protecting it from further harm.
Root Canal Aftercare Instructions
Following root canal therapy, you should be careful around the procedural site, especially when brushing your teeth and eating. In addition to any recommendations by Dr. Lavi, there are a few instructions you can follow to ensure a safe recovery, such as:
- Chew away from the procedural site
- Rinse with a warm saline solution four to five times per day until sutures are removed
- Stick to a soft or liquid diet for the first 24 hours
- Take antibiotics and pain medications as directed
- Use a cold compress to decrease discomfort or swelling
- Continue brushing twice a day and flossing daily
- Schedule a follow-up appointment
In most cases, any sensitivity and discomfort should fade within a few days. Persisting pain may indicate a problem with the procedure that needs to be dealt with promptly to prevent further complications. If your pain is persistent, call our Studio City office at (818) 980-8472 or our Los Angeles office at (213) 623-2212.
Frequently Asked Questions
Root canal therapy typically takes one to two appointments, each lasting about 90 minutes. The length of time depends on your root’s structure and the extent of the infection. For a more accurate time frame, we suggest scheduling a consultation with Dr. Lavi.
During your consultation, Dr. Lavi will review your oral health and provide you with a customized treatment plan that will include a timeline.
A dead tooth will appear discolored and get darker as the decay worsens. A tooth is considered dead if it’s no longer receiving blood flow or if the nerves are dead or dying. If you have a dead tooth, early treatment is vital to preserving your oral health.
If the root canal is reinfected after root canal therapy, retreatment is necessary to remove the infection and restore the tooth. There are several reasons that the initial root canal therapy wasn’t successful, including:
- Waiting too long to place the crown
- New tooth decay
- Cracked or fractured tooth
- Advancing gum disease
Though it’s uncommon for a root canal procedure to need retreatment, it’s necessary to address the infection before the tooth is unsalvageable.