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Need a Root Canal? Here's What to Expect

Root canals are common dental procedures — more than 15 million root canals are performed every year — and they're vital to saving teeth that have been affected by decay. Dental surgeries can be nerve-wracking, especially if you're not sure what to expect. 

At Bay Dental Group in San Jose, California, Woo Young Lee, DDS, and Sean Kim, DDS have a lot of experience performing root canals. Many people worry that root canals will be painful and unpleasant, but an experienced dentist can boost the success rate of the procedure and minimize your discomfort. 

What are root canals? 

Root canals involve the removal of the tooth pulp. The pulp of your tooth lies in the center, and it’s made up of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. However, the pulp of your tooth can easily become injured, infected, or inflamed. Removing it is necessary to alleviate pain and save the tooth from decay. 

The pulp of your tooth might be damaged for a number of reasons, including: 

What happens during a root canal? 

The root canal process is rather simple and will be performed with sterile tools in a comfortable environment. You will be sitting back n a dentist's chair the whole time. 

The dentist uses local anesthesia to prevent any pain during your root canal. You might feel a pinch as the medication is injected, but it will pass as the area is numbed. Once the anesthetic has set in, the surgery begins. 

First, the dentist accesses the pulp by making a small opening in the top of the tooth. Then, he uses small tools to clean out the dead or inflamed pulp, including the nerve that’s been triggering your pain. He’ll also thoroughly clean out the canals of your tooth during this process. 

Then, he applies an antibiotic to prevent infection and get rid of any remaining bacteria and seals the empty space in your tooth with gutta-percha and sealer paste. He caps the entrance to your tooth with a temporary filling to prevent saliva from entering the cleaned-out space. 

After your root canal

After the anesthetic wears off, you might experience some discomfort and swelling of the gums. This can be treated with over-the-counter painkillers and anti-inflammatories. You should avoid chewing on that side of your mouth to prevent pain. The pain should not be severe since the nerve was removed, and it should stop within a few days. 

You will need a few follow-up visits after your root canal is completed. If the infection is fully gone, your dentist will replace the temporary filling with a more permanent one. You might choose to have the tooth crowned instead, which reinforces the tooth further. 

Root canals have a high success rate, and the effects of this procedure can save your tooth and keep the root happy for the rest of your life. 

If you have more questions about root canals and what to expect, the team at Bay Dental Group will be happy to address your concerns. You can reach us by calling 408-290-9745 or visiting our contact page

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