Ouch! Do I Need a Root Canal to Save My Tooth?

Do you think you need a root canal but are too afraid of the dentist to have your tooth checked out? Don't be. More than 15 million root canals are performed every year, and this simple procedure can eliminate your tooth pain and even save your tooth. 

At the Washington, DC, dental practice of Dr. Margaret Culotta-Norton and Dr. Peter Grinc, we can get rid of damaged or infected root pulp inside your tooth with a root canal. Dental technology has come a long way, and it's not as bad as movies, TV, or your grandparents may have led you to believe. Instead, the relief you'll experience will be amazing!

Anatomy of a tooth

The outside of your tooth is made of hard white enamel. Inside the enamel is another hard tooth material called dentin. The dentin stretches down into your gum with long roots held firmly by the bone of your jaw. Inside these roots is a soft tissue, or pulp, that houses a nerve.

The pulp is part of what helps your tooth grow and develop, but once your tooth is fully formed and mature, it can survive without pulp. This means that if the pulp gets inflamed or infected, it can be safely removed via a root canal, and your tooth can be saved. 

How your tooth root can get infected

A pulp infection usually starts because of a cracked or chipped tooth, or cavity that causes a hole in the hard outside layers of your tooth. Bacteria enters through the opening and attacks the pulp. Once an infection starts, pus forms inside your tooth and creates painful pressure. 

You feel the pain when you bite down, or when you have something very hot or very cold in your mouth. Eventually, the infection can spread into your gums, cheek tissue, and even the bone under your teeth. If the infection is too widespread, you can end up losing your tooth

How a root canal repairs damage

If you come in for a root canal before the infection is too far gone, your tooth can be saved and your pain relieved. Dr. Culotta-Norton will carefully make a small access hole in the top of your tooth and clean out the infected root(s) with special tiny files. 

Once the tooth is cleaned out, the team will sterilize the inside of your tooth and fill it with a material called gutta-percha. A customized crown that looks like your original tooth goes on top of the filled-in access hole, and you once again have a nice, functional set of teeth --  without the nerve pain. 

After your root canal

Pain after your root canal should only be mild to moderate, and Dr. Culotta-Norton will prescribe pain medication for you. The pain should only last a few days, although you may have temperature and pressure sensitivity for a few weeks after the procedure. The earlier you come in for dental care after you start feeling tooth pain, the more likely it is that we can save your tooth, and the faster your recovery will be. 

If you think you need a root canal, don't delay based on unfounded fears. Dr. Margaret Culotta-Norton can free you from pain and protect your tooth. Contact our office today at 202-833-1111 or book your visit online.

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