“My Tooth Hurts… Do I Need a Root Canal?”
What is a Root Canal and How Can My Dentist Help?
Tooth pain can cause anxiety, especially when you’re worried about what to do and how much it will cost. It can be scary to consider that you’ll need an invasive procedure or even lose the tooth, but it’s important to know that your dentist is here to help. Tooth pain can indicate a serious issue, but your dentist can intervene and help preserve your tooth’s function with the right steps. If your tooth hurts or is sensitive or swollen, it might be the result of decay, which means it can be easily fixed.
Tooth decay begins to happen when bacteria eat away at the enamel, and you can often tell this is happening when it hurts to bite or chew. This is because the enamel is weakened and there’s less protection between the underlying nerves and the outside world. When the decay becomes advanced, it can affect the deep structures of the tooth and nerves, causing pain even when you don’t put pressure on it. When detected early, tooth decay can be easily corrected with a simple composite filling or similar restorative technique. When the decay becomes an infection that spreads beyond the outer layers of the enamel and invades the pulp and root, a root canal is usually necessary.
At New York General Dentistry, we use the latest technology and equipment to make sure your root canal procedure is as non-invasive and pain-free as possible. A root canal is one of the most common dental procedures performed by dentists and endodontists. A root canal is designed to eliminate bacteria that have infected the internal canal system of a tooth and prevent reinfection in the future. This treatment helps save your natural tooth and restore its function through minor surgical techniques. Additionally, a root canal can effectively relieve pain associated with a damaged or infected nerve. If you experience lasting pain or sensitivity, Dr. Chern can recommend your next steps. At New York General Dentistry, we use the latest technology and equipment to make sure your root canal procedure is as non-invasive and pain-free as possible.
Signs You May Need a Root Canal
Serious pain when you eat or put pressure on an area can be a sign of infection. Additionally, if the area still hurts after the pressure subsides (or even without pressure), you should see your dentist.
Hot or Cold Sensitivity
If it’s extremely uncomfortable or even painful when you eat hot or cold foods, it can be a sign that decay has begun to expose the underlying nerves. This is especially true if the pain or sensitivity lingers even after you’re done eating.
Swelling in the Gums
Gums that are swollen or have small bumps around the area where you experience pain can indicate that you’ll need to see your dentist to discuss whether you need a root canal.
Darkening of the Tooth
A change in color, especially darkening, is a sign that the tooth may be infected. If the tooth appears gray against the surrounding teeth, it can mean that the underlying structures have begun decaying.
The Root Canal Process and What to Expect
Your First Appointment (60-75 minutes)
- Dr. Chern and our team will ensure you are completely comfortable and relaxed while we talk you through the process and what to expect. Then, you’ll be given anesthesia so that you don’t experience any pain or discomfort during the process.
- A rubber dam will be placed on the tooth to ensure a sterile environment.
- The internal parts of the tooth will be debrided and cleaned of decay and infected tissue.
- If there is no excess of infected and inflamed tissue, gutta-percha (a specialized filling material) will be placed and a temporary filling will close off the internal structure of the tooth.
- A final x-ray will be taken to confirm completion of the process and a subsequent crown appointment will be scheduled. A crown is a cap placed over the tooth that can ensure the tooth is not reinfected– and that the tooth looks and works like normal.
Your Second Appointment (30-60 minutes)
- Occasionally, it’s determined at the first appointment that the tooth is too infected to seal off and medication is placed inside the tooth to allow it to heal.
- The rubber dam is placed again and the tooth is re-accessed to remove the medication. If proper healing has occurred, then gutta-percha is placed.
- A temporary filling is placed and a final X-ray is taken to confirm proper completion and a subsequent crown appointment is scheduled.
Caring For Your Teeth After A Root Canal
Taking good care of your teeth will guarantee they stay healthy and functional for a lifetime. Follow these care tips after your root canal to ensure your dental work lasts a lifetime:
- Eat a healthy soft diet until the crown and the permanent restoration is placed
- See your dentist regularly (every 4-6 months) for a hygiene appointment
- Brush your teeth twice daily for 2 minutes with a soft or electric toothbrush
- Floss every day or use a water flosser (Waterpik)
- Have a dental x-ray taken of the root canal once a year to ensure proper healing
What Makes Our Office the Right Fit for Your Dental Needs?
Dr. Chern will evaluate your damaged tooth, working carefully with our team to ensure your root canal therapy is customized to your needs. We’ll explain each step and make sure you understand your short-term and long-term treatment plan.
When you visit our Midtown East dentist office for a root canal, we’ll help you feel calm and relaxed throughout the entire appointment. We understand that needing a root canal can be scary, so we’ll make sure you’re informed and comfortable.
Using the most advanced techniques and equipment, we’ll ensure your root canal is a success– and that you can enjoy great oral health for the long term. Our attention to detail is unparalleled!
“I have been Dr. Chern’s patient for several years now and I have no intention of ever finding another dentist. When you find an amazing dentist, you stick with them. She’s honest, professional, and knows what she’s doing. Her staff is just as amazing.”– David K.
Meet With Dr. Chern &
Her Manhattan Team
The root canal remains one of the best ways to preserve your tooth’s functions and prevent more serious complications. To meet with Dr. Chern and our team, we invite you to schedule an appointment at our comfortable Manhattan office by calling or filling out our online form.
Our New York City Office
Sundays – Available by request for special cases and dental emergencies
“One of the most wonderful dentists I have ever been to. Inna is kind, compassionate, and truly cares about her patients. I was always afraid of dentists until I met Inna. Highly recommend her for any dentistry needs – and if you would like your dentist to be your new best friend!”– Abhi G.