What is a Root Canal

An infected tooth can cause all kinds of problems for both your oral health and your overall well-being. If you have an infected tooth, it is important that you get treatment as soon as possible. We offer endodontic treatment, which involves treating the inner pulp and repairing infected teeth.

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A root canal is a common term used for a root canal treatment. Your real “root canals” are a part of your tooth. They make up the innermost portions of your teeth, which are hollow and house pulp. Nerves and blood vessels run through this soft tissue, which nourishes your teeth, keeping them alive and well. When this part of your tooth becomes infected, you require a root canal treatment where the diseased pulp is eliminated, and the root canal is cleaned and sealed. Unlike fillings or crowns that address damage to the outer layer of the tooth, root canal therapy works deeper, where there are nerves and soft tissues (commonly called the pulp). Infections typically occur when bacteria invade your tooth, often through an existing cavity but can also be the result of trauma, cracks, or repeated dental procedures.

Signs You May Need A Root Canal

When the pulp of the tooth is suffering from an infection, or is otherwise damaged, you may require a root canal. 

How do you know if that kind of damage or if a tooth infection has occurred? For starters, look out for tooth pain or sensitivity to hot or cold, as those can be some of the first signs that a root canal may be indicated.

Pain can be a sign of a tooth infection or abscess, and that’s an issue you don’t want to ignore! An infection can spread and cause even more serious health problems. So whenever you have a toothache or other discomfort, you should visit our endodontists to be evaluated as soon as possible.

You may also need a root canal after an injury that has affected your teeth. When teeth are cracked or broken the damage can extend to the pulp of the tooth. In some cases, an injury or accident can damage the pulp of the tooth even when there are no external signs of damage. 

That’s why you should always visit your dentist after an accident that affects the mouth or jaw — to make sure there’s no damage you can’t spot with the naked eye.

What is Root Canal Surgery?

The most common surgery is called an apicoectomy or root-end resection. A small incision is made in the gum tissue to expose the bone and surrounding inflamed tissue. The inflamed tissue and small root end are both removed and the remaining root on the tooth receives a filling to prevent re-infection. The gum is then sutured. The bone naturally heals around the root over a period of months to a year and restores the tooth to function.

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What is Cracked Tooth Syndrome?

Cracked teeth have a variety of symptoms, including pain when chewing, pain on release after biting, or temperature sensitivity. Pain can be intermittent, making it difficult to diagnose the source of discomfort. Chewing can cause movement of the cracked pieces and lead to damage of the pulp resulting in infection.

Traumatic Injuries

If your tooth has been completely knocked out or removed from its socket, we can return it to the socket and stabilize it. In a week or so, we may recommend medication, as well as a root canal, to ensure the tooth remains strong and healthy. Remember, when your tooth is knocked out you need to keep the tooth moist, so place it in a glass of milk, or water (with a pinch of salt), or if possible, back into your socket.

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Are Root Canals Painful?

Root canals get a bad reputation. Like any dental procedure, we know root canals can be a little uncomfortable. But a lot of that discomfort stems from fear about the procedure, rather than the procedure itself. 

That’s why we do everything we can to put you at ease, before, during, and after your root canal procedure. And if you’re still anxious, we have sedation options available to make sure you stay calm and comfortable. 

Ultimately, root canal treatment is a lot less painful than the tooth pain you’ll experience without treating the issue!

Choosing a Root Canal vs. Extraction

When deciding whether to undergo a root canal or a dental extraction, there are a number of factors to consider. 

An extraction can bring immediate relief to the problem of tooth pain and can stop the infection from spreading. But an extraction also has downsides. After bringing relief to the immediate issue, you now need to address the missing tooth. Leaving a space where a tooth used to be can cause a variety of problems, including other teeth shifting out of alignment and even bone loss. So choosing extraction may mean needing a dental implant or bridge to replace the missing tooth. 

That’s why, when possible, it’s often preferable to save the natural tooth — and root canals are one of the tools for doing that. While a root canal may be more involved at first, saving your natural tooth means avoiding the problems associated with a missing tooth, and not needing additional follow-up treatments. 

Do I need a crown after a root canal?

After root canal therapy, the tooth that’s been treated may be sensitive and more fragile. To help protect the tooth, and to make sure you can eat and drink your favorite foods and beverages (even hot coffee and cold ice cream) sometimes a crown is required. 

Here at Mid-Peninsula Dental, we’ll make sure you understand your entire treatment plan before work begins.

Our Happy Patients

Dr Phan and Dental Assistant Jane were really Pros from start to finish. Jane was absolutely hilarious and very attentive, while also totally professional. Her and Dr. Phan made a great team and were able to solve my complicated wisdom tooth situation and always kept me informed of every risk before proceeding. Thank you!

Michael B.

Dr Beckstead is amazing. I had partial bone loss around one of my teeth and three dentists think that I won't be able to keep it, but Dr Beckstead performed one surgery and saved my tooth. It has been over two years since the surgery and I have not had any more issues with that tooth.

Lucy X.

I'm actually looking forward to my next prophylaxis. That's a teeth cleaning, and I never would have believed I'd say such a thing. I want to give a special shout out to Cindy, who did a fantastic job on my teeth AND gave me the tools and knowledge to nip gum disease in the bud. Have you ever heard of a Sulcabrush? I have one now, and it's awesome. Look it up.

David R.

Dr. Beckstead and his entire team are exceptional. They provided kind, informative and top-notch care every step of the way. My nerves were immediately calmed when I entered the office and I realized that I was in the caring and experienced care of true professionals. The procedure was flawless, the outcome was terrific and the entire process was pain-free (in every way!).

Tina R.

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20 First Street, Suite 200, Los Altos, CA 94022

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