Root Canals

Jessica Brereton Peterkin, DMD, MA -  - Family Dentistry

Breton Family Dental

Jessica Brereton Peterkin, DMD, MA

Family Dentistry located in Midtown, Phoenix, AZ

Root canals are nothing like the painful procedures you’ve seen in movies and heard about in-jokes. In fact, root canals do just the opposite: they alleviate the pain of an infected or damaged tooth. At Breton Family Dental in Midtown Phoenix, Arizona, Jessica Brereton Peterkin, DMD, MA, and her team provide gentle and effective root canals to fix your tooth and restore your oral health. To learn more, schedule an appointment today by calling the office or booking a visit online.

Root Canals Q & A

What is a root canal?

A root canal, also known as molar endodontics, is a treatment that Dr. Peterkin and her team perform to salvage your tooth if you’re suffering from a damaged or infected pulp. A root canal removes your tooth’s pulp and seals the empty space to prevent the infection from spreading.

What is tooth pulp?

Your pulp is the soft inner layer of your tooth. It’s composed of connective tissues, blood vessels, and nerve fibers. Once your tooth has erupted through your gums, your pulp doesn’t serve any purpose besides letting you know when something is hot or cold.

When pulp is damaged or infected, it swells, pinching the nerves within causing a great deal of pain. Many movies and jokes have mistakenly associated this pain with a root canal procedure, when in fact, a root canal actually makes the pain go away. 

What are the signs of a damaged or infected tooth?

These are some of the more common signs that you have a damaged or infected tooth that needs a root canal:

  • Toothache
  • Increased sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Swelling or tenderness in your gums
  • A darkened or discolored tooth
  • Pus around your gums
  • A small pimple-like pocket of pus at the root of your tooth

If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, or if you’ve recently had an accident, injury, or emergency that’s damaged your tooth, schedule an appointment with Dr. Peterkin immediately. The sooner you get treatment, the more likely she is to be able to save your tooth with a root canal and avoid an extraction. 

Will my infected tooth get better on its own?

An infected or damaged tooth won’t get better on its own. In fact, it will get worse. If left untreated, damaged or infected tooth pulp can lead to:

  • An abscess
  • Tooth loss
  • Infection of neighboring teeth or jawbone
  • Sepsis

Before root canals, there weren’t many other options for treating an infected tooth besides extraction. A root canal allows you to preserve more of your natural tooth structure, which is always better for your oral health.

What happens during a root canal?

Dr. Peterkin first takes an X-ray of your mouth to assess the extent of the infection or damage in your tooth. She also uses the X-ray to serve as a roadmap during the procedure. 

Next, she uses a local anesthetic to numb your tooth and its surrounding tissues, and protects the rest of your teeth and mouth with a rubber dental dam. With your tooth numb and isolated, she drills a tiny access hole in the top and uses a series of small files to scrape out the infected pulp inside. 

Once your tooth is free of its damaged pulp, she cleans and sterilizes the inside of your tooth and seals it up with a rubbery compound called gutta-percha. The access hole is then sealed with a filling. Sometimes a dental crown is applied to reinforce your tooth’s strength and structure.

Don’t wait for your infected tooth to get worse. Restore your oral health today by scheduling an appointment at Breton Family Dental. You can book your visit by phone or online.