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Root Canal

Alexandria Total Dentistry

General & Cosmetic Dentistry located in Alexandria, VA

If you’d do just about anything to avoid a root canal, you’re not alone — most people feel anxious or nervous at the idea of a root canal. But for the many people who undergo root canal therapy each year, the treatment doesn’t cause discomfort, it brings relief. At Alexandria Total Dentistry in Alexandria, Virginia, Daniel J. Lee, DMD, and Steven J. Lee, DDS, provide tooth-saving, painless root canal therapy to patients in the greater Washington, D.C., area. If you’ve been living with tooth pain or sensitivity, call the office or schedule an appointment online today.

Root Canal Q & A

What is a root canal?

Root canal therapy is used to repair the soft tissue, or pulp, inside your tooth. The main goal of the treatment is to save the affected tooth and prevent unnecessary tooth loss. To understand how a root canal works, you need to know a few basic facts about tooth structure.

A tooth’s soft pulpy center, which is surrounded by hard layers of dentin and enamel, contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissues. During tooth development, the pulp helps build and strengthen the dentin and enamel layers.

Tooth pulp begins near the crown of your tooth and extends to the tip of its roots, where it connects to the surrounding tissues. Because a mature tooth receives nourishment from these tissues, it can survive without its pulp.

When tooth pulp becomes inflamed or infected, it can cause severe pain or lead to an abscess. Root canal therapy is designed to take care of these problems.

When is a root canal necessary?

The very same factors that increase your chances of developing cavities, including poor oral health habits and a sugar-rich diet, can also increase your risk of eventually needing a root canal.

But certain dental problems can also make a future root canal more likely, including cracked teeth, chipped teeth, and teeth that have undergone repeated dental procedures.

Signs that you may need a root canal include:

  • Throbbing or radiating tooth pain
  • Dull, persistent tooth pain
  • Prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold
  • Tooth tenderness when touched or while chewing
  • Discoloration of the affected tooth

If you notice any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with the team at Alexandria Total Dentistry as soon as possible.

How is a root canal performed?

Before you have a root canal, your dentist at Alexandria Total Dentistry numbs the treatment area with a local anesthetic to ensure you’re comfortable throughout the procedure.

The treatment itself is very similar to having a cavity filled. The inflamed or infected pulp is removed, the root canal interior is cleaned and shaped, and the space is filled and sealed.

If your tooth is weak, you may require a dental crown for full restoration and functionality.

Is root canal therapy painful?

Although many patients worry having a root canal will be painful, dental anesthetics ensure you don’t feel any discomfort during the procedure.

If you still feel nervous, it’s important to remember that the infection or inflammation that requires root canal therapy usually causes far more discomfort than the root canal procedure itself. More importantly, you’ll finally find real, long-lasting relief once the procedure is complete.

It’s also important to keep in mind that chronic inflammation or an untreated infection inside your tooth can only worsen over time, and may eventually spread to your jaw, neck, or head.

To learn more about root canal therapy, or to schedule a visit, call the office or book an appointment online today.