Root canal therapy can be crucial to saving your tooth from an infection, but that doesn’t stop some people from feeling nervous about the procedure. Naturally, your mind might jump to sedation as a solution for relaxing through the process. But will you absolutely need it for root canal therapy? For some patients, the answer is yes – but it all depends on your unique situation. Read on to learn more about when your endodontist in Tacoma may – or may not – use sedation to help you relax.
The Root Canal Process
Root canal therapy is a procedure to remove damaged dental pulp from the tooth along with the harmful bacteria that caused the problem in the first place. The first step is to make a small opening in the tooth. Next, your endodontist will carefully remove the infected tissue along with other harmful substances. Afterwards, the inside of the tooth needs to be cleaned thoroughly and carefully to minimize the risk of a future infection. A crown will be attached to the tooth to protect it afterwards.
Is Sedation Necessary During Root Canal Therapy?
Due to its reputation, many patients expect root canal therapy to be a very painful procedure that they’ll need to be sedated for. However, this is actually a misconception. A local anesthetic will be applied to your mouth in order to keep it numb during the treatment; the effects will last for quite a while and typically persist for a few hours after the actual appointment. That means you’ll experience little to no pain during the root canal itself, although you might feel some pressure at certain points.
When Should Sedation Be Used?
Of course, even without discomfort to worry about, there are a few reasons why your endodontist might still recommend being sedated for a root canal. Typically, you might be given a sedative if:
- You have severe dental anxiety and need extra help staying calm.
- You have trouble sitting still for long periods of time.
- You have special needs that have to be taken into account, such as not responding well to anesthetic or a cognitive disorder that makes it difficult to remain relaxed during treatment.
Make sure you talk to your endodontist ahead of time so that they can take note of any concerns you have and figure out whether sedation is right for you.
Depending on your anxiety levels or other needs, you might receive one of three kinds of dental sedation:
- Nitrous Oxide: A gaseous sedative is mixed with oxygen and delivered through a special nasal mask. The effects wear off quickly after the mask is removed so that you can drive home by yourself.
- Oral Conscious Sedation: You’ll take a dose of medicine before your appointment. As the name suggests, you’ll be awake yet relaxed. You might not remember the details of the procedure afterwards.
- IV Sedation: The sedative is injected directly into your bloodstream. The effects are similar to that of oral conscious sedation, but the level of sedative you receive can be adjusted.
When root canal therapy is the only way to save your smile, you might be nervous. But with a trusted endodontist to help you explore your options for staying calm, you won’t have anything to worry about during the treatment and can instead look forward to finding relief from your toothache!
About the Author
Dr. Tina Olsson practiced as a general dentist for many years before deciding to specialize in saving teeth with root canal therapy. She received her certificate in Endodontics at the University of Washington, and she is a proud member of the American Association of Endodontics. Her practice, South Sound Endodontics, offers multiple sedation options for anxious patients. To learn more about these options or to schedule an appointment, visit her website or call (253) 752-5511.