If you have a tooth that is significantly damaged, diseased, or otherwise compromised, our dentist might recommend a root canal procedure to save your natural tooth. This can occur as a result of suffering significant trauma or damage to a tooth, having an old amalgam filling that has popped loose, or having significant tooth decay.

What Is a Root Canal?

A root canal is a common endodontic procedure that is performed in an effort to save a patient’s natural tooth from extraction. Root canals are necessary when the pulp (interior tissue) of a tooth and its roots have been exposed to bacteria and become infected.

The root canal procedure is similar to receiving a dental filling for a cavity, but much more extensive as the drilling extends into the interior and root canals of the tooth. Once drilled, the dentist then removes the soft tissues from inside the tooth, smooths the walls of the root canals, and sanitizes the tooth’s interior, eliminating any signs of infection and bacteria.

Once clean and sterile, the dentist fills the root canal and interior of the tooth with a special material called gutta-percha. The tooth is then sealed and covered with a dental crown designed to resemble the natural tooth while also supporting and protecting the natural tooth.

Non-Surgical vs. Surgical Root Canal Procedures: What’s the Difference?

There are two types of root canal procedures: surgical and non-surgical. While the goal of both is the same (remove the tooth’s interior tissues, eliminate infection, and save the natural tooth), the procedures do vary slightly in terms of the method used to access the tooth’s interior.

Based on your dental history and current dental x-rays, our dentist can help you determine which is right for you.

The Non-Surgical Root Canal Procedure

The non-surgical root canal procedure (also called root canal therapy) is the most commonly performed type of root canal. During a non-surgical root canal, our dentist accesses the interior of our patient’s tooth entirely through a small hole drilled into the tooth’s surface, like we would during a dental filling treatment for a cavity.

Surgical Root Canal Procedure

During a surgical root canal (also called endodontic surgery), our dentist accesses our patient’s root canal system and interior of their tooth through a small incision in the gum tissues.

Surgical root canals are not often needed to successfully treat a patient and preserve his or her tooth. Our dentist might recommend a surgical root canal in the event that signs of bacterial infection are not isolated to the roots and pulp of the tooth but have also spread to the surrounding jawbone.

Additionally, treatment with a surgical root canal might be necessary if a tooth becomes further compromised and infected after a traditional, non-surgical root canal. In these cases, performing a surgical root canal prevents our dentist from having to damage the restorative work that has already been done on the patient’s tooth.

Is Root Canal Treatment Painful?

Whether surgical or non-surgical, the root canal procedure has a bad reputation for being painful. Without modern anesthetics and pain medications to help with the recovery process, root canal treatment would hurt.

However, our dentist, Dr. Jared Harding takes special care to ensure our patients do not experience any pain or discomfort during root canal procedures. Before beginning treatment, we administer a powerful local anesthetic that completely numbs the treatment area so that patients do not feel any pain during the procedure.

Following a root canal, it is normal to experience some tenderness, dull or aching pain, and swelling at the treatment location. This can usually be adequately addressed using over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain medication like ibuprofen or acetaminophen. Plus, keeping your head elevated after a root canal and applying cold compresses to the treated side of your face can help reduce swelling and limit pain during your recovery.

Sedation Dentistry for Root Canal Procedures

Additionally, if you feel nervous about having a root canal or suffer from dental anxiety, we welcome you to talk with our dentist about sedation dentistry options. We offer a variety of different levels of sedation to help patients relax in the dental chair during their dental procedures and even routine exams if needed.

Root Canal Therapy and Restorative Dentistry at Dentistry of West Bend

While we always do everything we can to prevent serious oral health problems from developing, teeth can still sometimes become damaged or diseased, resulting in the need for treatment with a root canal procedure to preserve your natural tooth.

At Dentistry of West Bend, we’re proud to provide our patients with a comprehensive list of preventive, restorative, and cosmetic dentistry services designed to maintain dental health, prevent oral health problems, and address issues effectively when they do arise.

To learn more about surgical and non-surgical root canal therapy, we welcome you to schedule a tooth restoration consultation with Dr. Jared Harding at Dentistry of West Bend today.