diagram of root canal therapy

If you know or suspect you have an infected tooth, root canal therapy is the right treatment to stop your pain, save your tooth, and prevent additional infection which can spread to other teeth and erode your jawbone. People think a root canal is painful, but with modern techniques it is not, and any discomfort you feel during the procedure or after will be far less than what you experience on a daily basis with an infected tooth.

This page can help you understand the root canal procedure, but the best way to learn whether you need one is to have a dentist evaluate your tooth. For a root canal evaluation at our Columbia, South Carolina office, please call (803) 781-9090 or email Smile Columbia Dentistry.

Do You Need a Root Canal?

A root canal is also known as an endodontic surgery because it treats an infection on the inside of your tooth, the pulp, sometimes described as the nerve because it includes sensitive nerves. The symptoms of an infected tooth include:

  • Lasting sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Painful chewing
  • Spontaneous tooth pain that interrupts your concentration and even your sleep
  • Pain that starts in a tooth and goes to other teeth or even other parts of the body
  • A pimple on your gums

These symptoms generally indicate an infection, and if you experience them, you may need a root canal.

What Is a Root Canal?

A root canal is a procedure to remove the infected tooth material and protect the tooth against further infection. First, we will drill into the infected tooth, including the canals in the tooth’s roots, where the procedure gets it common name. Some teeth have one root, others have two or three. Once the infected material has been removed, the tooth root is filled with a combination of a rubbery substance (gutta percha). The tooth is then closed either with composite filling or with a dental crown, depending on how much tooth material had to be removed.

Although people think a root canal is painful, it is actually not. During the procedure, anesthesia will prevent you from feeling discomfort. After the procedure, you may experience some soreness and inflammation, but this is controllable with over-the-counter pain medication. If you are worried about the procedure, we can use sedation dentistry to help you feel relaxed but awake during your root canal. Root canal therapy has a success rate of more than 90%.

To talk to one of our dentists about a root canal, please call (803) 781-9090 or contact Smile Columbia Dentistry in Columbia, South Carolina today.