Root Canal Therapy in Melbourne, FL
Results from a survey of older adults in Florida indicated that 23% had untreated decay. When left untreated, cavities can allow bacteria to penetrate deeper into the tooth’s structure, leading to inflammation and infection. When this occurs, root canal treatment may be needed. According to the American Association of Endodontists, more than 15 million root canals are performed annually. Though common, many myths still exist surrounding root canals. Fortunately, advancements in dentistry—including technology, instruments, anesthesia, and education—have made this treatment painless.
If you need a root canal, there’s no need to worry. Dr. Apel and his team at Designing Smiles Dentistry are committed to providing compassionate, patient-centered care that resolves your dental needs to improve your oral health.
What Is a Root Canal?
Understanding root canal therapy requires knowledge of the tooth’s structure. Above the gumline is the tooth’s crown—the visible part you can see when you smile or open your mouth. Below the gums is the tooth’s root. The tooth comprises various layers: the enamel, dentin, and pulp.
A root canal is an endodontic procedure, which means it addresses the tooth’s interior, specifically targeting the tooth’s pulp. Found beneath the tooth’s enamel and dentin, the pulp is the innermost layer of the tooth. Within the pulp cavity are root canals that house nerves, blood vessels, cells, and connective tissues.
If the pulp becomes inflamed or infected, a root canal procedure can remove the infected tissues and clean the root canal, thereby saving the tooth.
When a Root Canal Is Needed
The tooth’s pulp becomes infected when bacteria from the surface advance deeper. This progression is usually the result of an untreated cavity, cracked tooth, or a dental injury that damages the tooth.
While pain is perhaps the most common indicator that a root canal may be needed, there are other signs of infected tooth pulp. If you need root canal treatment, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Persistent toothache that may extend into your face, jaw, or other teeth
- Pain while chewing or touching the tooth
- Sensitivity when consuming hot or cold foods and drinks
- Discoloration that makes the tooth appear darker or gray
- Swollen gums or jaw
- A small pus-filled bump on the gums near the infected tooth
- A feeling that the tooth is loose
These signs do not automatically mean a patient needs a root canal, and some patients who do need root canal treatment don’t experience any symptoms at all. It’s always best to maintain regular checkups and contact us if you are experiencing pain or are otherwise concerned about your oral health. We can take X-rays to evaluate the area and determine the best treatment options.
In the case of infected pulp, the sooner the treatment, the better the outcomes. Root canal therapy can alleviate pain and other symptoms, reduce the risk of jawbone damage, prevent the spread of infection, and eliminate the need for extraction.
The Root Canal Procedure
Root canals have developed a bad reputation, perpetuated by the phrase, “I’d rather have a root canal!” Though this procedure is perceived as excessively painful, that is truly a myth. The reality is that people experience pain from the infection itself. Because root canal therapy removes the infected pulp, patients experience relief from pain and other symptoms after the procedure.
With advancements in dentistry, root canal treatment is more effective, efficient, and comfortable than before. Using advanced imaging systems, we can view the tooth’s interior and adjacent tissues to evaluate the degree of infection and design a treatment plan.
Typically, root canal treatment takes 1-2 appointments. Dr. Apel will begin by using a local anesthetic to numb the affected area so that you don’t feel any pain during the procedure. Then, he will make an opening in the tooth’s crown to access the canals within the pulp. Using an endodontic file, Dr. Apel will remove the infected pulp. Once removed, the canal is thoroughly cleaned and filled with gutta-percha, a biocompatible plastic material. The tooth is then sealed with a dental filling. Depending on the severity of the infection, root canal treatment typically takes between 30 minutes and one hour.
Dr. Apel often recommends a dental crown to provide enhanced protection after he performs a root canal. This requires a second appointment, during which he will place the custom-made crown.
What If the Infection Is Severe?
Root canal treatment preserves the tooth’s structural integrity by removing the infected pulp. While the goal is to save the tooth, some teeth are so damaged that extraction is the only way to prevent the spread of infection. Although removal is the last resort, we provide options for replacing extracted teeth quickly and effectively.
Replacing a missing tooth benefits your oral health by preventing teeth from shifting toward the gap and creating a misaligned bite. Maintaining proper alignment makes it easier to communicate effectively and clean your teeth thoroughly. Depending on the method chosen, tooth replacement can also preserve jawbone health. Mini dental implants, for example, are prosthetic tooth roots that we place in your jawbone to provide the foundation for an artificial crown, bridge, or denture. When you chew, the implant stimulates the jawbone, retaining its density and volume.
While other tooth replacement options are available, such as traditional bridges, mini implants are the only method that stimulates the jawbone the way natural teeth do, thus preventing the risk of facial collapse. An added benefit is that mini implants can often be placed the same day a tooth is removed, which is difficult to accomplish with conventional dental implants.
No matter your treatment path, our goal at Designing Smiles Dentistry is to alleviate your pain, restore your teeth’s function, and help you achieve long-term oral health.
Root Canal Recovery and Aftercare
In the days immediately following your procedure, you may experience some sensitivity or tenderness that can be alleviated with over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen. Most patients fully recover in a week or less. However, if you experience pain or discomfort for longer than a week, please give us a call.
While you can eat after your procedure, we recommend waiting until the anesthesia has worn off. Starting with a soft food diet and gradually introducing your normal foods will aid in the healing process. It is also best to avoid chewing with the treated tooth, especially as you wait for your custom crown.
Most individuals can return to work or school the day after their procedure.
With proper aftercare and maintenance, root canal treatment can last for years—even a lifetime. A strong oral hygiene routine includes:
- Brushing twice a day with a soft-bristle brush and non-abrasive fluoride toothpaste
- Flossing daily
- Rinsing with an antimicrobial mouthwash
- Maintaining regular six-month checkups at Designing Smiles Dentistry
For those with a dental crown, we suggest wearing a nightguard if you grind or clench your teeth at night. This layer of protection takes pressure off the crown, preventing premature damage. We also recommend avoiding hard or sticky foods and candies which can loosen or dislodge the crown.
Improve Your Oral Health with Root Canal Treatment
If you are experiencing symptoms of an infected root canal, treatment is necessary to restore function to your tooth and preserve its long-term health. Dedicated to your comfort and well-being, Dr. Apel and the team at Designing Smiles Dentistry prioritize your needs, making the procedure as painless and stress-free as possible.
With a state-of-the-art facility and cutting-edge technology, you can trust us to provide the most effective and efficient root canal therapy. If you’re ready to say goodbye to discomfort, contact us today to schedule a free consultation.