Myths about Root Canal Treatment

Root Canal Treatment
Root Canal Treatment
Dental caries prevention.Teenage boy at the dentist’s chair during a dental procedure, smile close up. Healthy Smile. Beautiful male Smile

Root canals are one of the most misunderstood procedures in dentistry. There are more myths about endodontic treatment (San Diego) than any other service we offer at Downtown Dental Specialty.

How can you tell the difference between fact and fiction when it comes to root canals? These are the most common myths that our San Diego dentists hear and the truth behind them:

MYTH: Root Canal Treatments is Painful

Root canal treatment shouldn’t be any more painful than a regular dental filling. Endodontic treatment relieves tooth pain. It does not cause toothaches to feel worse or last longer. They don’t cause any additional discomfort. How long does a root canal take? Root canals take longer to complete due to the number of tooth roots involved. If you’re worried about your mouth getting sore from keeping it open so long, we can use soft props and numbing medication to ease the discomfort.

Root canals are often thought to be painful. But the truth is that the pain of abscessed teeth comes from putting treatment off for too long. These teeth can be difficult if not impossible to numb with local anesthetic, which is why antibiotics may also be used ahead of time. What happens during a root canal? We numb the tooth and remove the infected nerve. It eliminates the source of your pain altogether.

MYTH: Antibiotics Clear Up Abscessed Teeth

Let’s say our San Diego dentist suggests that you take an antibiotic before your root canal. After you take the medication, your tooth feels fine. Now what? Can you skip the endodontic treatment appointment?


It’s only a matter time before the abscess recurs, even with antibiotics. The antibiotic reduces the extent of infection (which is why your symptoms improve) but it doesn’t heal the source of it, such as a crack or open cavity.

Overuse of antibiotics can result in drug resistance. Plan to have your root canal completed within the ideal timeframe to ensure you’re as comfortable as possible during the procedure.

MYTH: You Don’t Need a Root Canal if Your Tooth Doesn’t Hurt

Abscessed teeth don’t have healthy nerves to transmit painful stimuli like healthy teeth do. That’s why it’s physically possible to have severe decay without ever feeling anything.

Sometimes, a small cavity can cause extreme sensitivity or pain when you’re eating. At other times, they can be completely pain free without any symptoms whatsoever. Abscessed teeth are similar. Root canal treatment should not be determined by your pain level. Rather, it should be based on the extent of infection that is visible on your dental X-rays and during an exam.

MYTH: It’s Better to Pull a Tooth Than Get a Root Canal

You may think that having your tooth removed is the best, most cost-effective, and fastest way to solve all your dental problems. But once a tooth is pulled, it needs to be replaced with a new one. If it isn’t, all other teeth will shift and your bite will change. The bone can also shrink in that area, which can lead to premature aging in your lips, cheeks, and overall facial features.

Our San Diego dentists want to help you maintain your teeth as long as possible. Replacing missing teeth is always an option, but it does bring additional costs with it that you may not have considered.

MYTH: You’re Going to be in Pain After a Root Canal

After a tooth’s nerve has been removed, it is practically impossible for it to feel pain. We will remove the nerves inside of the tooth root. This eliminates the physical transmission of painful stimuli altogether.

Root canals physically leave your tooth with no way to interpret pain. That being said, it’s not unusual to experience some discomfort from at the injection site or simply having your mouth open for a longer amount of time. These problems are temporary and can be remedied with over-the-counter pain medication and warm compresses.

Root Canal Treatment Near You

When it comes to saving a tooth that has abscessed, endodontic treatment (San Diego) can often be the last resort. Fortunately, root canal treatment has never been easier or more painless thanks to modern technology. If you are suffering from a toothache, abscess, or a dying tooth, our San Diego dentists can help. For an appointment, call Downtown Dental Specialty today!

What To Do If You Have Cracked Molar

Tooth treatment

When it comes to prosthodontics, San Diego patients can struggle with major issues like a cracked molar (back tooth.) Cracked molars aren’t uncommon, but you tend to hear about them less often than you do other types of dental emergencies, such as chipped front teeth.

Why Do Teeth Crack?

There are several reasons why a molar may crack or break. Some are preventable with early intervention, while others are not. Here are some of the most common causes that we see in our San Diego practice:

Large, untreated area of tooth decay.

Active cavities continually expand into the surrounding, healthy tooth structure unless they’re treated. While decay may not be painful, it doesn’t mean the cavity isn’t rapidly expanding. As cavities become large, the outer shell of enamel thins out and becomes especially brittle. Until one day, you bite down, and the molar cracks apart entirely.

Older, large amalgam filling that needs to be replaced.

Silver fillings are very useful for filling large cavities or teeth that are difficult to keep dry, such as molars. But over time, fillings may start to leak and pull away from the tooth. This process creates an open margin around the filling where bacteria can seep into the tooth. If the filling isn’t replaced or upgraded to a crown, it’s only a matter of time until the tooth cracks apart around the filling when you bite or chew.

Biting down on something hard.

Perhaps it’s a fork, a tongue piercing, or using your teeth as tools to open something. Biting down on an extremely hard object can easily cause severe tooth fractures or broken dental work.

How to Tell if Your Tooth is Cracked

Sometimes cracked tooth symptoms are extremely obvious, and other times they’re so subtle that it’s hard to tell whether a tooth is cracked or not.

Depending on the extent of damage to your cracked tooth, symptoms may or may not include:

  • Pain or throbbing
  • Sensitivity to biting pressure (or when you release the pressure)
  • Rough edges you can feel with your tongue
  • Visible fractures
  • Pieces of tooth falling out of your mouth

When you visit Downtown Dental Specialty to check on your cracked tooth symptoms, we will take an X-ray and visually examine your tooth. But since some cracks in teeth are invisible to the naked eye, we will also use a special tool to have you bite down on certain points of the suspected tooth. This can help us pinpoint whether there is a hairline fracture somewhere in the tooth or tooth root.

First Steps if You Have a Cracked Molar

If you suspect that you have a cracked molar, it is extremely important not to chew on that side of your mouth. Otherwise, you could inadvertently damage the tooth and cause more tooth structures to break off or crack.

To help manage discomfort, we recommend taking Motrin (ibuprofen) as directed. The anti-inflammatory effects will help ease hypersensitive tooth nerves to reduce pain until you can seek out treatment.

Although it’s an aged analogy, cracked teeth can easily be compared to a “run” in an old pair of nylon stockings. Once it starts, it can easily grow and get out of hand.

Contact our office immediately if you suspect your tooth is cracked.

Cracked Tooth Treatment

The best treatment for cracked teeth will depend on how deep the crack is. If the fracture is limited to the crown (the portion of the tooth above the gums) our specialist may recommend a restorative porcelain crown over the tooth. The restorative crown will protect the compromised tooth and distribute biting pressure evenly, preventing additional breakage.

For cracks that extend deeper into the tooth structure or nerve, root canal therapy may also be required in addition to the crown.

Severe cracks that extend well into the root that cannot be restored are best managed by removing the tooth entirely and replacing it with a dental implant.

Prosthodontics San Diego

Downtown Dental Specialty offers advanced cracked tooth treatment in San Diego. If you’re experiencing cracked tooth symptoms, contact us as soon as possible. We offer advanced prosthodontics (San Diego) to help restore your smile, regardless of how extensive the damage may be.

New patients are always welcome. Contact us today.

What is a Root Canal (and How is it Done?)

Root Canal
Root Canal
Human teeth anatomy. Cross section of human tooth. 3d illustration

Endodontic treatment—more frequently referred to as a root canal procedure—is a special type of dental service that helps preserve damaged or infected teeth. More often than not, you’ll need a root canal as a last line of defense before removing it altogether.

What is a Root Canal?

You can think of a root canal almost like a dental filling. Except with a traditional filling, voids/cavities in the top of the tooth are filled. In the case of a root canal, the filling material goes deeper inside the tooth to fill and seal off all of the empty nerve chambers running through the root structures. These sealed areas block any bacteria from re-entering the tooth.

Endodontic treatment removes the nerve tissues inside the tooth that is dying, traumatized, or infected. By performing a root canal, our endodontist (San Diego) can prevent the need to remove the tooth altogether.

When a cavity is limited to the outer layers of tooth, a filling or crown is usually more than adequate for treating the issue. But once the tooth’s nerve becomes involved, endodontic treatment is a must.

The Root Canal Procedure

Understanding how a root canal is performed can help put your mind at ease about the endodontic procedure.

What is a root canal, and how is it done? Essentially, we are removing the pulp tissues inside of a dying or abscessed tooth. When we take this step, we can preserve the surrounding tooth structure for several more years.

During a root canal, our San Diego dentist will carefully numb the tooth to prevent any discomfort during your procedure. If there is a severe infection or abscess, an antibiotic will reduce the inflammation leading up to your appointment to improve your comfort level.

After the tooth is completely numb, we create a small opening in the crown to access the nerve tissues. From there, the pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned, medicated, and sealed off.

Once your endodontic procedure is complete, we will need to place a crown over the tooth to protect the structure that’s left behind. Since your tooth no longer has a vital blood supply, it’s generally weaker and more prone to chipping. A crown will reinforce the remaining tooth so that you can continue biting and chewing normally.

After your root canal, there may be some minor tenderness where the local anesthetic was injected. An over-the-counter pain reliever such as Motrin is usually more than adequate. Because the nerve tissues are removed, the tooth cannot feel any discomfort after the endodontic procedure.

Do I Need a Root Canal?

Although toothaches usually accompany a tooth with nerve damage, some teeth never hurt at all. You may need a root canal if you’re experiencing any of these symptoms:

  • Severe pain in a specific area of your mouth
  • Sensitivity to hot temperatures (coffee, soup, etc.)
  • Visible abscess or swelling on the gums
  • Pain when you bite down
  • A deep crack or cavity
  • Fractured root
  • Traumatic injury to the tooth
  • Darkening of the tooth overall

Why not remove the tooth, you ask? Extracting an abscessed or decaying tooth creates added spacing between your teeth, leading to other teeth drifting out of alignment. Over the months ahead, the misaligned teeth will wear down irregularly, change how your TMJ functions, and even cause aesthetic concerns.

Endodontic treatment prevents added costs like tooth replacement or alignment therapy, minimizing the overall impact on your smile.

The only way to know for certain if you need a root canal or not is to have an X-ray taken of the tooth to see the full root structure and areas around it. If there are signs of an abscess or decay that has ruptured into the nerve chamber, a root canal will be necessary.

Visit Our Endodontist | San Diego

Downtown Dental Specialty provides comprehensive endodontic therapy in a gentle, relaxing atmosphere. If you’re struggling with a chronic dental abscess or toothache, specialized root canal therapy is the best way to save your smile.

Contact our San Diego office today to reserve an exam with our expert dental team.