A day spent in a Tacoma endodontist’s chair getting root canal treatment may not be as exciting and fancy-free as a day at Ruston Way, but if you’re experiencing moderate toothache or severe pain, you’ll probably agree it’s time well-spent. Although toothache may not always be caused by an infected tooth (a cavity or a cracked tooth can also cause toothache), we’d like to answer any questions you may have regarding the health of your teeth.

When persistent or severe tooth pain doesn’t go away, it’s definitely time to check in with your dentist or endodontist; this kind of pain may indicate the need for root canal therapy. But don’t be frightened: Root canal procedures are a routine part of the care we provide at Plancich Dental and Lakes Dentistry.


What Is a Root Canal?

When a patient has an infected tooth, a root canal procedure may be used to attempt to save the natural tooth and prevent reinfection and abscess. A root canal is a common procedure used by dental professionals, called endodontists (root canal specialists), to remove infected soft tissue, called pulp, and save the patient’s tooth. To accomplish this, the endodontist drills through the crown of the tooth into the pulp chamber, carefully removes the inflamed or infected pulp, cleans and disinfects the inside of the tooth, then fills and seals it. Complicated dental procedures like this demand a skilled, experienced doctor. The doctors at Plancich Dental and Lakes Dentistry rely upon decades of experience and expertise to bring you the highest level of comfort and confidence.


What Causes Tooth Infection?

Tooth decay is a common problem, but if left untreated it can become infected — sometimes severely infected. Infection can develop from a cavity, crack or chip, a break in the tooth, gum disease or a tooth injury (even if there are no visible signs of damage). As a regular part of your healthcare plan, we recommend regular dental appointments for cleanings and fillings to help prevent the need for endodontic treatment.


How Is Tooth Infection Diagnosed?

It’s important to monitor your oral health and report persistent toothache to a dental professional. Some symptoms that help us diagnose the affected tooth include:

  • Severe, persistent throbbing pain that extends into your jaw, neck or ear
  • Pain associated with hot and cold temperatures
  • Pain, pressure or discomfort when chewing
  • Throbbing or gnawing pain
  • Bitter taste in the mouth
  • Foul odor in the mouth
  • Darkened or discolored tooth (beyond that of normal discoloration)
  • Fever

Symptoms, along with X-rays, help us pinpoint infection so we can suggest treatment options, ranging from root canal therapy to dental implants.


Treatment Plan

If we determine from the X-ray that a root canal is necessary, you couldn’t be in better hands than with Plancich Dental and Lakes Dentistry. Our doctors will walk you through the entire procedure in your consultation appointment.

We’ll answer any questions you may have about any part of the procedure, from when we insert the dental dam and apply local anesthetic to when we install the dental crown. We’ll explain that to gain access to the root of the tooth, we use a special drill — don’t worry, you won’t feel pain — to drill through the crown of the tooth, past the dentin and into the pulp chamber to access the infected dental pulp and blood vessels; we remove this infected connective tissue from the diseased tooth. To finish, we fill and seal the healthy part of the tooth and, if necessary, install a robust, authentic crown. After only about 30-60 minutes in the chair, you’ll leave smiling like never before.


Root Canal Recovery

Many patients may imagine that a root canal requires a long, unpleasant recovery. While some other kinds of oral procedures may take significant time for recovery, root canal patients often experience full recovery in less than a week.

Following the procedure, you may feel some pain and discomfort as the local anesthesia fades and sensation returns to normal. You may find some relief by taking an over-the-counter pain-reliever, like Advil.

In the first few days, you might find that soft foods are more suitable. Try eating from the following list:

  • Applesauce and pudding
  • Yogurt, smoothies and milkshakes
  • Mac ‘n cheese, soups and mashed potatoes
  • Pears, peaches and bananas

Avoid hot and spicy foods; these may aggravate the recovering tissue.


Does a Root Canal Hurt?

You may feel some pressure during a root canal; anesthetic is used to numb the area so that you won’t feel any pain. If the pressure you feel starts to resemble pain, don’t hesitate to ask the endodontist for more anesthetic. The doctors at Plancich Dental and Lakes Dentistry take great care to ensure a comfortable procedure for every patient.


How Can You Prevent a Root Canal?

Because of the high-quality care provided by a good dentist — along with the help of local anesthetic — there is little to fear about getting a root canal. Most people, however, would rather skip the more serious dental work in favor of occasional, regular checkups. That’s why general dentists and endodontists alike recommend that, in addition to your regular dental care checkups, you brush your teeth twice daily and floss once daily. And don’t forget to floss between your molars, as they are more likely to need root canals.


What Happens If You Avoid a Root Canal?

Caring for your oral health may be an inconvenience, but it’s never a good idea to prolong a necessary treatment. Abscess, a bacterial infection inside the tooth, could occur and need to be drained. In some cases, extraction of the entire tooth could become necessary. Ignoring tooth infection could lead to other medical problems in your jaw, neck and heart.


Make an Appointment Today

After reading this article, you may still be unsure if you need root canal therapy. At Plancich Dental and Lakes Dentistry, we’ve helped many patients like you overcome dental challenges of many kinds, from cavities to root canals and more. Call 253-272-7400 today for an appointment, or simply click here, and we’ll be honored to help you in your journey to your best oral health.