Dentist in Katy, TX: What is a Non-Surgical Root Canal?

dentist in Katy, TX looking at a person's teeth


If you have a serious issue with your tooth, your dentist in Katy, TX may recommend a non-surgical root canal. You may have heard of root canals (and many of the myths associated with them), but do you know what it really means and why it’s important? In this article, you’ll learn more about the most common type of root canal, the non-surgical root canal. We’ll explain the particulars of non-surgical root canals, why you might need one, and some important things you should know about them, including debunking some myths you might have heard. 

What is a Root Canal? Why Might Your Dentist in Katy, TX May Recommend One?

First, it’s important to understand what a root canal is. A root canal is a type of dental treatment that your dentist in Katy, TX may recommend for certain dental health issues. Root canals treat issues that affect the dental pulp of your tooth. The dental pulp is made up of blood vessels and tissue cells and it lives inside channels inside your tooth. Pulp is responsible for helping the tooth form in the first place. After you have a fully formed tooth, the pulp mainly helps you detect sensations of hot and cold. 

The problem is that the dental pulp can become inflamed, infected, or otherwise damaged. This can cause severe pain and other issues. A root canal is where your dentist treats these issues by actually removing the affected pulp and cleaning out the infection or repairing the cause of the inflammation. Then, your dentist in Katy, TX fills in the area with special dental fillers to fix the damaged tooth. This allows you to keep your natural tooth for issues that often otherwise would require a tooth extraction. 

Symptoms to Talk to Your Dentist in Katy, TX About

There may be many reasons you might need a root canal. For example, one common reason is from an untreated cavity that has penetrated deep into the tooth, eventually leading to a bacterial infection of the dental pulp. 

Another common reason you might need a root canal is if you damage your tooth. If you crack your tooth, your Katy emergency dentist may need to perform a root canal because that type of damage can affect the dental pulp. 

In other cases, you may need a root canal after a dental abscess if the infection spreads to the tooth’s root or the dental pulp. This is similar to a deep cavity, as the bacteria damages the pulp, which not only can cause serious pain, but also may weaken the tooth. 

If you don’t treat one of these issues as soon as possible, you may risk losing the tooth. Here are some symptoms to look out for that you might need a root canal:

  • Severe toothaches
  • Pain when chewing or biting
  • Lingering sensitivity after hot and cold (even after you remove the source of the heat or cold)
  • Darkening tooth
  • Pimples on the gum
  • Swelling on the gum near the tooth

Therefore, if you notice these symptoms, visit your dentist in Katy, TX for help. 

What is a Non-Surgical Root Canal? How Does Your Dentist in Katy, TX Perform One?

root canal tool dentist in Katy, TX uses to clean pulp out of tooth
During a non-surgical root canal, your dentist in Katy, TX uses a root canal tool to remove infection or inflammation from your tooth.

A non-surgical root canal is the most common type of root canal. It’s not much different from filling a cavity. We generally start with some local anesthetic to numb the area, then the dentist drills into the tooth to make an opening and expose the damaged pulp. Then, the dentist uses a special tool to clean out the tooth to remove the infected or inflamed pulp. Once the tooth is cleaned out, your dentist in Katy, TX fills the place where the pulp used to be and seals the tooth off to help prevent further infection or damage. 

While everyone is different, your dentist can complete most non-surgical root canals in just one or two appointments. Right after the procedure, most people can return to their normal activities, though you may have some residual numbing for a few hours afterwards from the anesthetic. You may have some mild pain, but usually over-the-counter medicines like Tylenol are enough to relieve the pain. You may want to eat softer foods and avoid chewing on that side of your mouth for a couple of days until you’re healed. However, keep in mind that everyone’s recovery is different and that you should follow the specific aftercare instructions the dentist gives you. 

Non-Surgical vs. Surgical Root Canal

Since there is a non-surgical root canal, there must be a surgical version of the treatment, right? Yes, as you may have guessed, there are surgical root canals and they are a bit different from non-surgical root canals. These are less common, but still may be necessary for some people. For a surgical root canal, the dentist must make a small incision on the gum to be able to access the affected tooth’s root and remove the pulp that way. 

If you have severe damage to the tooth, or if you still have pain or other symptoms after a non-surgical root canal, the dentist may need to perform a surgical root canal. It may also be necessary if the infection or damage is so bad that it damages both the tooth and the bone underneath it. 

Despite the name “surgical root canal,” this treatment still typically only requires local anesthetics, like the non-surgical root canal. Also, most people can return to work and their daily activities the next day after a surgical root canal. 

Common Myths About Root Canals Your Dentist in Katy, TX Hears

Since we’re on the subject of root canals, there is actually a lot of misinformation out there about them. These myths often make people scared of getting a root canal, even though it’s a common treatment that is often the only way to save your tooth. Let’s talk about some of the common questions we receive about root canals (and the myths surrounding them). 

Will a Root Canal Hurt?

One of the most widespread myths about root canals is that they are extremely painful. Of course, each person’s pain tolerance is different, but for most people, a root canal only causes mild discomfort and is pretty painless. Your dentist in Katy, TX can help you find the right solutions if you’re afraid of the pain or if you think you might have a lower pain tolerance than average. 

As we mentioned, before we start with a root canal, we use a local anesthetic to numb the area, just like we do when we fill a cavity. Most people find that OTC pain medications are plenty to relieve any discomfort they experience after the numbing wears off. 

The fact is, a root canal is actually a pain relieving treatment, as infected and inflamed pulp can cause immense pain. A root canal removes this source of pain, so many patients actually feel much better after a root canal. 

How Expensive is a Root Canal?

Another common misconception is that a root canal is costly. Costs vary depending on your specific situation. However, generally a root canal is less expensive than extracting the tooth and replacing it with a bridge or crown. If you want to replace an extracted tooth with a dental implant, that generally increases the cost as well. Therefore, if you have a seriously damaged tooth, opting for a root canal instead of an extraction may actually save you money.

Is it Better to Pull the Tooth Instead?

Despite this, many people wonder if it’s better to just remove the tooth that is causing them problems. However, unlike a pebble in your shoe, you typically don’t want to remove a tooth if you can help it. That’s because extracting teeth can negatively affect your jaw bone and can cause the bone to deteriorate over time without a tooth to provide constant pressure on it. That’s why your Katy family dentist generally reserves extraction as a last resort. Therefore, if your tooth can be saved by a root canal, that is usually the preferred way to go. 

Experienced Dentist in Katy, TX at The ToothBooth

When you need experienced dental care in Katy, choose our team at The ToothBooth. We provide quality dental services for the whole family. Find us just off Katy Freeway to learn how we can help you take care of your smile. We offer a wide range of services, including general dental care, specialty services, and cosmetic dentistry. Call us now at (832) 437-0841 to book an appointment!