Root Canal Treatment

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What it is | Infection | Extraction instead? | Procedure | Crown Placement | After Care | During Pregnancy | Community |


What is a Root Canal?

Root Canal Costa Mesa Orange CountyThe crown, or the visible part of our natural tooth, is protected by the dental enamel underneath the gum; it is protected by the dentine all the way to the end of the root. This dentin is a naturally hard substance as well, but a bit less hard compared to the enamel. Within such a fortified cage, and all across the root of the tooth, is an extensive cavity or canal full of dental pulp, otherwise known as the pulp chamber. The pulp holds blood vessels, nerve tissue and other matter, which nourish the tooth. Whenever the pulp becomes infected, however, excessive pressure accumulates inside as a result of bacterial products and formation of debris. This condition is discomforting and extremely painful. The root canal procedure is done to relieve the infected pulp, often providing quick relief. It is the first treatment given by most dentists to avoid extracting the tooth. It is quite safe, even if you are wearing braces or if you have other oral issues. The effects are long-lasting, so the procedure is well-worth it, if you can no longer tolerate the discomfort or excruciating pain.

AAE states “Endodontists are specialists in saving teeth”. With just a part of the entire session, you’ll see a noticeable relief from tooth pain.


How can the Tooth become Infected?

By now you may be wondering, “How can the pulp inside a fortified tooth become infected?” The food you eat can attack the enamel. You would imagine that you would have an option of what foods to eat, but a few food particles can linger inside the teeth long after you have finished eating, particularly on the chewing surfaces of your molars’ inter-dental gaps. If you do not consistently brush and floss your teeth, the carbohydrate and sugar substances in those food particles will be converted into acid by the bacteria that linger inside your mouth. The acid will lower the saliva’s defensive effect on the enamel, and the enamel in the tooth will start to be eroded. resulting to cavities. When the cavities are not sufficiently filled, the enamel is eventually going to be punctured and make way for infection to get to the pulp.

The bacteria inside the mouth are likely to infect the gums as well. When the gums become loose, this can expose the dentin and puncture the layer below it and provide a way for the infection to get to the pulp. In this case, the pulp has to be eliminated to prevent a recurring infection; otherwise an abscess could develop and, consequently, an extraction has to be done.

Pulp infection may be due to other reasons such as a dental injury that is not treated, a crack or chip in the tooth, and perhaps a repeated restoration.


How About Infection and Teeth Extractions?

This type of treatment is more expensive than outright extraction, so how about extracting the painful tooth right away? The reason that extraction is not carried out right away is because artificial teeth will never be able to function well like the natural one. Extracting without some natural replacement will only compromise your eating and smiling ability.

The procedure can be a treatment for multiple issues like when the nerves are inflamed, dying or dead, and if the tooth is cracked or dead. It can also be a repeat treatment of an RCT that has failed. It is sometimes even required to remove teeth or nerves. The ultimate decision to undergo this procedure will be totally up to you, with the help of an expert that we have on-staff, after you have aired all your concerns and the specialist has examined you completely.


Early Symptoms

  • Toothache
  • Infection
  • Swelling
  • Extreme sensitivity to hot and cold


What your Dentist might ask

  • The location of the swelling or pain
  • The pain’s duration
  • When the pain started
  • The type of pain, whether constant or pulsed


Signs that Are  Evident

It is somewhat possible that you are unaware of the problem that is  spreading in your pulp, until it is already too late. But, some indications are likely more evident to a dentist’s trained eye. These would include:

  •    The color of the tooth.
  •    Manifestations of pus discharge
  • Noticeable changes in soft tissue as well as asymmetry



These signs are actually not sufficient for us to come up with a clear and exact diagnosis, and so additional tests may be required. The tests that are available to diagnose a faulty tooth are X-ray, thermal sensation, percussion, and also electronic pulp testing.


Root Canal Procedure

  • Imaging – First of all, this surgery requires taking an assessment of the condition of the specific tooth. We make use of X-ray imaging to determine the damage and the configuration of the roots. The front, top, bottom, upper and molar teeth can have numerous roots, and the infection can be in any number. The dentist must know beforehand which of the roots is/are infected and its orientation.
  • Anesthesia – Treatment involves surgery, so local anesthesia is used at all times prior to surgery.
  • Opening the Canal – Some patients will probably require sedation before the anesthesia is administered. A hole will be drilled into the enamel to open the problem areas. This quickly lets the pressure out from within, so the patient will not feel any pain even when the anesthesia has already wore off. This drilling is done in the molars’ crown or from the lingual side, if it involves a front tooth.
  • Cleaning – The tooth, which is the focus of the root canal, is going to be thoroughly evacuated with the removal of the nerve tissue along with all other pulp substances. After that, the canal will be completely flushed and then dried.
  • Sealing – The gap must never be left empty, or else an abscess or infection may recur. We are going to fill the vacant canal using gutta percha, a rubber-like material, together with a sealant solution to make sure that we do not leave any canal empty.
  • Temporary Filling – As the mouth is healing, the fresh hole will be covered by a non-permanent or temporary filling.
  • Permanent Seal – If everything goes well and the patient does not have any complaints, this temporary filling will be replaced with a permanent one on his/her next appointment.


Crown Placement After Surgery – Why Is it Necessary?


The procedure will cause a tooth to have thinner walls, and so it becomes vulnerable. We recommend for the it to be reinforced with the use of a dental crown, once the patient is completely healed.

If you opt for a crown, we are going to provide you with a temporary crown instantly, and then forward the impressions to the laboratory where a permanent crown will be made for you. A succeeding visit is going to be necessary for the fitting of your crown. If the it is not strong or if it is broken, supplementary work is probably necessary before the crown can be fitted.



A root canal procedure is typically completed in at least two visits due to it being unsafe to complete within one visit unless there is pus or a specific odor present. The patient and his/her dentist will check if everything is going well on the second visit, and will also find out whether or not any additional work is necessary. Dentists, who are very confident, may sometimes skip the temporary filling and instead proceed directly with the permanent one during the very first consultation. In such cases, recovery time will not take very long at all.

Pain Relief:

  • Whenever pain is experienced in the tooth, an over the counter NSAID, or non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Ibuprofen may be taken.
  • Acetaminophen (Tylenol) may be taken by patients who are NSAID or Aspirin sensitive.
  • Take prescription drugs if the pain persists. Your dentist will check if remnant infection is present.



The likelihood of an infection following a successful surgery is very rare. However, if there is a suspected infection:

  • Antibiotics are likely to be prescribed to eradicate the remnant infection.
  • The root canal will probably be reopened, cleansed, and sealed once again during the repeat treatment

There are cases that you may be allowed to drive after the procedure. Although depending on the potency of the sedative used, it is probably advisable to find someone else who can offer you a ride. However, if you have a painful tooth, and no matter how painful it is, it will definitely be taken care of.


Root Canal Treatment during Pregnancy

If you are pregnant, you may be worried not only about yourself, but about your unborn baby as well. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you should be worried over all procedures that you probably need. If pregnant and you need to go through a root canal procedure, there are three considerations when it comes to keeping your baby safe.  

  • X-rays are required in order to assess your condition as well as the orientation of the roots, and X-rays can be harmful to a fetus. The X-ray, however, will not be directed towards your abdomen but to your jaw, and so the procedure is not going to affect your baby in any way.
  • A fear shared by many people is that the stress of a surgery maybe harmful to the baby. As a matter of fact, there won’t be any tension or stress that is going to affect the baby at all.
  • The patient is probably going to need antibiotics afterwards, which is really very rare. Besides, there are antibiotics that are safe for pregnant patients to take.

We have a dental team that is equipped to keep yourself as well as your baby totally safe during any treatment. We follow special safety measures to prevent any complications during your pregnancy, which are as follows:

  • We try to avoid doing a root canal procedure during the first trimester, until it becomes very necessary. The reason is that this is the period that a baby is most at risk. If needed, the root may be opened then drained.
  • You can possibly go through a root canal in the second trimester, if really necessary. The procedure has to be carefully considered. The question being whether or not it can be put off until after the baby has been delivered, which isn’t very long. The procedure has to be pushed back during the seventh month or eighth month of pregnancy.


Root Canal in Costa Mesa, Orange County Community

Book an appointment with us in OC and we will find out if a root canal is the proper treatment for your particular case or situation. We have the best affordable dental care specialists in Costa Mesa, Orange County, CA that will make sure to answer all your questions on treatment price and insurance, and so you can be confident about your decision. We accept patients with PPO and no insurance.