Root canals allow dentists to save teeth that would otherwise have to be extracted due to decay. We perform root canals in Virginia Beach when the interior of a tooth is decayed. While most people have heard of root canals, many don’t understand what the procedure actually entails. We’d like to solve the mystery.

What is a Root Canal?

Each tooth is made up of several layers. The outer layer is the hard protective enamel. Inside of that is a layer of sensitive dentin. Finally, the inner part of the tooth, called the pulp, contains the nerves and blood vessels of the tooth. Each pulp chamber branches off, forming canals that lead toward the tips of the tooth’s roots. (A tooth may have one to four roots, depending on which type of tooth it is; the molars have more roots than do the front teeth.) These root canals provide a means for the tooth to absorb what it needs from the blood and get rid of toxins or other unnecessary materials via the blood stream.

A deep cavity, traumatic injury, or tooth fracture can make the canal susceptible to bacterial infection. Once bacteria enter the inside of the tooth, they can kill the structures within the pulp. The infection also stimulates increased blood flow and creates pressure within the tooth. This can cause severe tooth pain, and may initiate bone degeneration in the jawbone below the tooth. Tooth loss will eventually result if the infection is not treated.

In a root canal, the dentist enters the inner part of the tooth through a hole in the top of the tooth. The infected material inside the root canal is removed, and a special inert filling material is placed in the remaining space. Then the access hole is closed with a filling. If the tooth has been severely damaged, then a crown may be needed to strengthen the tooth.

If you see a dentist in the early stages of this condition, the tooth may be saved with a root canal. If you wait too long, then the decay might become too severe to save the tooth. It would then need to be extracted; you could then choose to replace it with a prosthetic tooth anchored by a dental implant, or with a removable bridge.

If you ignore an infected tooth for too long, the infection can spread from the tooth down into the jaw bone, becoming an abscess. This is a severe condition, and can even be life-threatening if ignored for long enough. If you have a severe toothache, don’t ignore it! Once the infection kills the nerve, the tooth will stop hurting, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that the tooth got better.

Easy Does It

Will root canal therapy hurt? Not with today’s advanced analgesics and technology. When a tooth’s nerve is dead because of infection, then procedures on the tooth won’t hurt at all; however, most dentists still provide local anesthesia for root canals, to ensure that the patient is comfortable and to relieve anxiety. In fact, the entire process can be so comfortable that many patients doze off.

Oftentimes, root canal therapy can be completed in a single appointment. We simply clean out the diseased canal, fill it with a biologically-inert substance, seal it from further infection, and you’re on your way. While some patients experience post-procedural soreness or slight tissue inflammation, these are controllable with over-the-counter analgesics. Follow-up care involves thorough home hygiene and regular dental visits for cleanings and checkups.

Dentist in Virginia Beach

If you need a root canal in Virginia Beach, then you’ll want to choose a dentist with training in this procedure, so you get the best outcome. Dr. Mary Lewis is a dentist in Virginia Beach who performs root canals and other dental services. She’s highly trained, allowing her to do high-quality work. To book a complementary consultation with Dr. Lewis, please call our office.

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