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Are root canals really painful? Who needs them? And why? Find out the answers to all these questions and more below

If just reading the phrase root canals makes you cringe, or if you’re not sure what it means, then today’s blog is for you.


We get a lot of questions at the office about what exactly a root canal treatment is. If our patients have heard of them, it’s usually nothing good.


At Dental Express San Deigo, we love turning common dental stigmas upside down.


So, we created this list of must-know facts to clear up any confusion and set the record straight. That way, if you ever need a root canal, you’ll know what to expect when you visit your San Diego dentist.


And be sure to stick around until the end of the blog because we’ll be covering ways to avoid this infamous treatment.


1. What is a Root Canal?

A root canal is a dental treatment involving the soft tissue on the inside of your teeth, also known as the pulp. This tissue contains all the blood vessels and nerves that keep your teeth healthy and functioning properly.


When the pulp inside your tooth becomes inflamed or infected, it’s crucial to remove it before it spreads through the rest of your tooth or even to surrounding teeth.


And root canals do just that. During a root canal treatment, your dentist will get rid of any infected tissue, fill the tooth, and seal it to prevent further disease. Typically, with a follow-up appointment to ensure the infection is fully cleared, this process takes place over anywhere from two to three visits.


Cavities are the most common cause of root canals, but cracked or teeth chipped can lead to inflammation or infection in the pulp as well. 


2. Why Do I Need a Root Canal?

If the damaged pulp isn’t removed, the infection can make its way through the rest of your tooth, eventually eating away at the bone that holds it in place.


Left untreated, the tooth may need to come out. As we’ve covered on our blog before, missing teeth are a whole mixed bag of potential problems.


They can lead to problems chewing and speaking, and the longer you’re down a tooth, the more your remaining teeth can shift and cause issues with your bite.


Not to mention, missing teeth can make it harder to brush and floss, increasing your risk of battling gum disease and tooth decay (again).


Root canals are a powerful treatment that can extend the life of your teeth and save you the money and hassle of having a tooth extracted.


3. Do Root Canals Hurt?

This is the million-dollar question, and it’s the most common one patients ask at the office.


Now, everyone handles pain differently. But, ideally, your San Diego dentist should take all the proper steps and precautions to make sure your treatment is as pain-free as possible.


At Dental Express, your comfort is our first priority when you come in for a root canal treatment. Whether by oral-conscious sedation or nitrous oxide dental sedation, your dentist will numb the area before getting started.


The most you should feel throughout the treatment is pressure.


Once they remove the infected pulp, your dentist will thoroughly clean and disinfect the inside of your tooth before filling and sealing it with either tooth colored fillings resin or metal amalgam.


If you’d like a full breakdown of what to expect from a root canal treatment at Dental Express, check out our root canal service page.


4. Why Do I Need a Crown After a Root Canal?

If the pulp infection causes enough damage to your tooth, a filling may not be enough to protect it from further decay.


If this is the case, you’ll need a crown to fully reinforce your tooth, which may extend the treatment to three visits. 


Loose Dental Crowns act as a protective shield for your teeth, keeping out any harmful decay-causing bacteria.


5. What Does the Recovery Process Look Like?

Typically, standard root canal treatments that involve permanent fillings take two visits: The initial visit is where the dentist clears out the infection and fills your tooth. Then, the follow-up appointment to make sure the infection was fully cleared out.


If you need a crown put in, your San Diego dentist will likely ask you to come in for three visits. During the first appointment, your dentist will clean your root canal, put special medicine to clear out any remaining infection, and give you a temporary filling. 


At the second, they’ll check your root canal for any signs of infection, permanently fill your tooth, and set you up with a temporary filling.


For the third and final appointment, your dentist will remove the temporary filling and place the permanent one. This process is quick and painless and doesn’t require any anesthesia, unless of course it would help you feel more comfortable.


After your root canal treatment, the area around the affected tooth may be sensitive or swollen for a few days. Your dentist may send you home with antibiotics, and you can feel free to take over-the-counter pain relievers to manage any discomfort.


Of course, be sure to use these medications as directed.


6. How Long Will the Filling or Crown Last?

Fillings and crowns are strong protective restorations that are designed for the long haul. If you take good care of them, they can hold up for many years.


Daily dental care and regular trips to your San Diego dentist are crucial if you want to get the most out of your restorations.


7. Is There a Way to Avoid Root Canals?

We’re so glad you asked!


Unfortunately, once the pulp inside your tooth becomes infected, a root canal is the most effective and affordable way to relieve any pain and restore your dental health.


But there’s plenty you can do to help prevent this issue.


Restorative treatments like the root canal are tried-and-true methods of improving oral health. But the best treatment for your smile is daily brushing, flossing, and regular exams and cleanings at your San Diego dentist.


To keep your teeth safe from decay and gum disease, make sure to brush twice and floss once daily.


If you want, you can add water flossers or interdental cleaners to your dental care routine for extra protection.


Limiting your consumption of sugary foods and drinks like candy, sodas, and juices can help too. These heavily processed foods are notorious for causing tooth decay and cavities.


When it comes to your smile, preventive care is the best care.


Have Any More Questions? Need a Root Canal Treatment?

Dental Express is your premier dental practice in San Diego. Whether you’re our patient or not, we provide “For you, about you” dentistry.


If you ever have any questions about treatments like root canals, feel free to reach out. And if you’re ready to schedule an appointment, you can schedule online or contact us at one of our six convenient locations.


We believe dentistry is a genuine medical service that requires integrity, empathy, and compassion. So when you bring you and your family to Dental Express, your smiles come first.


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