Dream Dental Paul H. Kim, DDS

Root Canals

root canal treatment

Root canals are routine dental procedures that remove infected pulp from inside the tooth. They are essential for saving the tooth once tooth decay has reached the innermost layer. If the infection is not removed, it will continue to cause pain and inflammation, and can even result in the formation of abscesses at the roots of the tooth. In severe cases, the affected tooth can even be lost. By removing the infection, root canals ensure that the infection will not spread or worsen, and that the tooth can be restored. 

Did You Know?

Every year, over 15 million root canals are performed, with approximately 41,000 root canals being performed each day!

Frequently Asked Questions: 

Am I a candidate for a root canal?

Woman holding an ice cream cone and wincing while holding her cheek

You may be a candidate for a root canal if you are experiencing certain symptoms that could indicate a pulp infection. Such symptoms can include some or all of the following: sudden or severe tooth pain, tooth discoloration or sensitivity, swollen gums, and an inability to chew or bite with the affected tooth. 

At the first sign of any of these symptoms, you should call and Schedule a consultation with Dr. Kim immediately. If a pulp infection is the cause, putting off treatment will only allow the infection to spread and can lead to possible abscesses. 

Are root canals painful?

Contrary to popular belief, root canals themselves are actually not painful. Rather it is the pulp infection and the resulting inflammation that is painful. Because it can take a few days for the inflammation to subside, you may experience some residual soreness after your root canal. However, thanks to modern dental anesthetics and dental sedation, you should feel minimal to no discomfort during your root canal procedure. Most patients explain their root canal as feeling the same as a regular filling. 

What is the root canal process at Dream Dental?

Before starting with any treatment plan, Dr. Kim will first perform an exam to determine the cause of your symptoms. If he suspects a pulp infection, he will likely take dental x-rays to confirm the diagnosis and determine the extent of the infection. If a root canal is needed, he will explain your treatment plan and obtain your approval. 

To prepare you for your root canal procedure, your mouth with be anesthetized to keep you comfortable and dental sedation may also be used to keep you relaxed. The tooth having the root canal will then be isolated using a dental dam

Green dental dam around tooth

Then, a small hole will be drilled in the top of your tooth to access the internal pulp chamber. A series of special root canal files will then be used to remove any decayed or diseased tissue from the pulp chamber and root canals. After that, the remaining space and root canals will be cleaned and flushed with water or an antiseptic made from sodium hypochlorite. 

The remaining space will then be filled with a rubber-like dental material called gutta-percha. This material prevents the tooth from being hollow on the inside and provides extra support. To finish the procedure, a temporary filling will be placed in the access hole to seal up the tooth. 

Once your tooth has completely healed from the pulp infection, it will be restored using a dental crown. Dental crowns are the most ideal restoration for root canals because they provide the most support and can fully restore the tooth. 

What happens after a root canal?

After your root canal, you will need to avoid chewing on the side of the root canal until your permanent restoration is placed. This is because you want to take special care to not dislodge the temporary filling, which is not as strong as a permanent restoration. 

Additionally, you may experience some residual soreness after your root canal procedure. To manage this, over the counter pain medications may be recommended. It may also be recommended to eat softer foods until your mouth has had a chance to heal. Once your permanent dental crown has been placed, you can usually resume your normal diet and habits. 

How do I care for my tooth after a root canal?

Toothpaste on a white background

After a root canal, you will want to care for your teeth by practicing good dental hygiene habits. These habits should include a daily routine of twice daily brushing with fluoridated toothpaste and daily flossing. They should also include dental checkups and professional teeth cleanings at Dream Dental every six months. 

In addition to good hygiene, you will also want to avoid damaging your teeth. This means that you should avoid any behavior that could result in your teeth chipping or breaking. Such behaviors may include smoking, grinding or clenching your teeth, nail biting, chewing on ice or pens, and using your teeth to open things. 

How can I prevent future root canals?

To prevent future root canals, you need to prevent future pulp infections. Pulp infections generally happen for two reasons. One, because tooth decay has eroded the enamel and dentin layers to reach the pulp, or two, the tooth has been damaged or a restoration is faulty and allows bacteria to enter the pulp. 

Regular dental checkups are an important part of avoiding future root canals. During a dental checkup, Dr. Kim can identify early signs of tooth decay and can treat them will a filling rather than a root canal. He can also check any restorations you have for signs that they need to be replaced before they fail. Also, each dental checkup consists of a professional teeth cleaning which will remove the bacteria responsible for causing tooth decay. 

In between dental checkups, practicing good oral hygiene is another way to prevent future root canals. Essentially, you want to prevent bacteria from entering your tooth. This means that keeping your teeth clean is the first step to accomplishing this and good daily hygiene practices do just that. 

Dream Dental is committed to providing an exceptional dental experience to patients in Torrance, Palos Verdes, Gardena, and the surrounding South Bay areas. Schedule a consultation with Dr. Paul H. Kim today!

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