Root Canals

Root Canals
Severe tooth pain sends even the strongest among us straight to the dentist’s chair. If you’ve recently bitten down and experienced sharp pain, feel pain when you put pressure on the tooth, or if your tooth suddenly feels extremely sensitive, you may be a candidate for a root canal. Dr. Patricia Van Kooten, DMD, at Lighthouse Family Dentistry in Monterey, California, saves time in her schedule for emergencies such as root canals. If you have tooth pain, it’s important to seek treatment immediately. Call or request an online appointment today with Dr. Van Kooten.

Root Canals Q & A

What is a root canal?

A root canal is a procedure that cleans out the canals in the root of a decaying or abscessed tooth. Both safe and effective, a root canal helps to save your tooth. Before root canal technology was available, when people lost teeth, they often suffered bone loss, difficulty chewing and speaking, and bite problems. Millions of teeth are saved every year with root canals.  

Why do I need a root canal?

Large fillings can cause a tooth to crack or break, leaving you with very little tooth. This creates the opportunity for a germ to lodge in the pulp inside the tooth, creating an abscess.  If you have an infection in the tooth, you’re at risk of losing it. Bacteria can destroy the bone, and the bone connects your tooth to your jaw.

What happens during a root canal?

There is no need to fear a root canal. With today’s technology, it’s similar to having a tooth filled. Dr. Van Kooten first takes X-rays of the affected tooth or teeth to guide her work. She then uses local anesthesia and numbs the entire area so that you do not feel pain during the procedure. She places a thin covering over your tooth to protect it from bacteria in the mouth.

Next, Dr. Van Kooten opens the tooth from the top and removes the nerve, including areas in the root (the root canal). She cleans every canal in the root and the inside of the tooth, and she places antibacterial medicine in it. She then fills the canals and space inside the tooth with a material to seal it against harboring bacteria. Finally, she places a temporary filling on the tooth.

Dr. Van Kooten may prescribe an antibiotic for you to take after the procedure. The area will be sensitive for several days, so the operative phrase is “be gentle” in your daily dental routine.

At a follow-up appointment after the root canal, Dr. Van Kooten will either put a permanent filling in the tooth or create a crown for it, depending on the degree of decay or infection. The restored tooth should last a long time with proper dental care. There is no substitute for brushing, flossing, and using antiseptic mouthwash daily.