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Root Canal


Diagram of tooth showing tooth rootA root canal treatment is a surgical process, but one that Simi Hills Dental handles every day. A root canal is the removal of the decayed or damaged tooth pulp. Once the pulp is removed, the cavity is cleaned, disinfected and sealed.

Several years ago, if the tooth pulp got damaged, dentists had no choice but to remove the entire tooth. These days, fortunately, thanks to root canal treatment, millions of teeth are saved every year.

What is Tooth Pulp?


The tooth pulp, or the dental pulp, is the soft tissue in the center of the tooth that contains the tooth nerve vessels, blood, and connective tissue. The nerves are present in the root or legs of the tooth and are not necessary for the health and function of a tooth since its only job is to provide sensation. The tooth will continue to be nourished by the surrounding tissue. However, after treatment, a tooth becomes more susceptible to infections.

When the dental pulp suffers trauma or becomes infected, it can cause an abscess, which is a pus-filled pimple or pocket that forms at the tip of the tooth's root. This condition can cause swelling not just in the gums but on the face, head, and neck region. To get rid of the pus, our body will create a hole through the side of the tooth, which will drain the pus into the gums or through the cheeks. The abscess can also cause bone deterioration at the tip of the root.

When is Root Canal Treatment Needed?


Root canal treatment is typically needed when x-rays show the decay or damage has spread into the pulp chamber, causing necrosis of the tissue. Some symptoms of a pulp infection include:
•  Pain when eating or drinking hot or cold food.
•  Pain when chewing or biting down.
•  A loose tooth.

As the infection spreads, the pain fades away as the pulp dies. This can cause people to think their tooth has been healed. However, as the infection spreads to the root canal system, the pain will return along with other symptoms like:
•  Pus leaking from the tooth.
•  Facial swelling.
•  Discoloration of the tooth.
•  Swelling of the gum.

What to Expect During and After a Root Canal


During a root canal procedure, patients are given local anesthesia, so the procedure itself isn't painful. However, once the numbing agent wears off, the affected area may feel a bit sore, and you may experience some swelling. This situation will resolve itself in a few days.

Most people can return to their daily activities, work, and school immediately after a root canal procedure. However, it is recommended that you do not eat anything until the numbness has passed two to four hours after the procedure.

An infected pulp cannot heal by itself, and postponing treatment can make the situation worse. If the infection spreads, you may have no choice but to have your tooth extracted. If you suspect your tooth is infected, call us at (805) 317-4999 and consult with Dr. Stout today.
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