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Root Canal
in Milwaukee, WI

What is a root canal?

Infected tooth pulpThere are many misconceptions about root canals and patients in Milwaukee, WI has it wrong that root canals are procedures that can be excruciatingly painful which is why patients put off having them until the time that their dental condition has worsened. A root canal procedure is effective in repairing and saving a tooth from extraction when it becomes infected due to deep decay, repeated dental treatments, cracks or chips, large tooth fillings, or trauma. The treatment involves removing the infected nerve and tooth pulp and sealing off the tooth to prevent any further damage.

The pulp of the tooth contains the nerves within the root canal. These nerves are responsible for giving you a hot or cold sensation and the absence of this will not affect the normal function of your teeth once you get a root canal. It is important for patients to have this procedure done as soon as the dentist recommends it because if left untreated, the tissue surrounding the tooth may for an abscess and it may no longer be possible to save the tooth. An abscess is a pocket that is filled with pus that may extend up to the roots of the tooth. This may cause swelling in areas of the face, bone loss around the tooth root, as well as drainage problems which manifest as holes through the side of the tooth into the gums or the cheeks.

When is Root Canal Needed?

It is difficult to identify right away that you have an infected tooth pulp unless you make a habit of going to the dentist for regular check-ups. Many mistake an infected tooth pulp for a toothache that will not go away and seek help from their dentist when the condition has already worsened. One telltale sign that you may need a root canal is experiencing a chronic toothache that becomes worse when you chew or apply pressure to the affected tooth. You may also feel a sudden sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures. Upon inspection, you may notice that the affected tooth has become discolored, swelling or tenderness of the gums near the infected tooth, and appearance of persistent pimples on the gums. If you experience any of these, make sure to schedule a visit with our team in Milwaukee, WI to confirm if you will require a root canal procedure.

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What are the benefits of having a root canal?

At Hampton Dental Associates, we think of root canals as tooth life preservers. Root canals are necessary when tooth decay has allowed bacteria to penetrate the enamel and dentin layers of the tooth and enter the pulp chamber and root canals beneath the chamber. At this point, the infection will only worsen, eventually leading to an abscess. If this happens, your infection can spread throughout your body. 

Without a root canal, the tooth is destined for extraction. But when you have a root canal and Dr. Winters cleans out the entire interior of the tooth and fills it with gutta-percha, the tooth can survive the remainder of the patient’s life. People assume that without the nerves, blood vessels, and other material inside the tooth that it will fall out. That’s not the case. Teeth only need their blood supply when they are developing in our childhood years. Once a permanent tooth fully develops, it no longer needs a blood supply. That’s why a tooth with a root canal can remain a part of your smile and your bite for a long time. 

It’s always preferable to keep a natural tooth, if possible, rather than having to replace it with a dental implant or a bridge. 

What is the Root Canal Procedure?

Female dentist performing a root canal on a male patient.Root canal procedures would require a patient to come in several times before the entire procedure is completed. As with any dental treatment, it is necessary for patients to get some dental tests like a dental x-ray to help your dentist determine the extent of the infection and for the team to come up with a treatment plan that will best suit their condition.

Before starting the root canal procedure, your dentist will use local anesthesia to numb the affected area. A rubber dam will also be placed to drain out the patient’s saliva to keep the area dry. Once the anesthesia has taken effect, your dentist will drill a hole into the tooth. This will be used to access the tooth pulp using dental files. Your dentist will clean out the entire cavity of the tooth, removing the pulp, the decayed nerve tissues, and any debris. The full length of the tooth cavity will be cleaned making sure that no traces of the infected pulp is left to avoid further damage to the tooth.

The tooth cavity will be flushed with water or sodium hypochlorite to flush away any remaining debris. The tooth will then be sealed after it has been thoroughly cleaned. Your dentist may also opt to apply medication inside the tooth cavity to keep it sterile.

Your next appointment will involve filling in the tooth using a rubber compound and a sealer paste. This will be used to fill the inside of the tooth and the exterior hole will be sealed off by a dental filling.

The last step will be to restore the normal appearance of the tooth and to reinforce the weakened tooth structure. Your dentist may recommend the use of a dental crown and other dental restorations to protect the tooth which has become prone to damage and breaking due to the infection.

How long does a root canal procedure take?

IStock 176120696 2 300x201The average root canal with the team at Hampton Dental takes between 30 minutes and an hour. More complex situations could take up to 90 minutes. Usually, because we place a porcelain crown on the tooth receiving the root canal, the process takes two appointments: one to perform the root canal and a second to place the custom crown. If a smaller tooth, such as an incisor, is receiving a root canal we may be able to finish the procedure by simply placing a filling in the entry hole. This would make the entire process only a single appointment. 

What Should I Expect After My Root Canal?

After the root canal procedure, patients can expect their teeth to be sore for about 2-3 more days and will start to go down after that.

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What will the results of my root canal look like? 

Once we clean out the infected tooth, fill the interior with gutta-percha, and place a filling and/or crown on the tooth, no one will be able to tell any difference between this tooth and any others in your mouth. If we place a crown on the tooth, it will perfectly match the color of your adjacent teeth. If we only need to place a filling, we use composite resin and that makes for a basically invisible filling. 

What foods can I eat after a root canal procedure?

There aren’t any restrictions after your root canal. That’s part of the overall misconceptions about root canals. People assume they are incredibly painful procedures, but the pain involved is coming from the infection inside the tooth that has inflamed the nerves in the tooth. The root canal removes those infected, inflamed roots, so it relieves the pain. Plus, once the root canal is complete, the tooth no longer has any nerves in it, so it no longer has any sensation. 

You may have some mild soreness afterward from having your mouth open during the procedure, but it shouldn’t preclude you from eating anything. 

Risks of Root Canal

Beautiful Smile Picture Id155430919 300x200As with any dental treatment, a root canal can have some complications even if your dentist has done a great job clearing the infected tooth of the infection. It is possible that the bacteria from the infected tooth can get carried onto the surrounding areas of the teeth through your gum’s blood supply system. If you feel any unusual pain after the root canal procedure, be sure to go back to your dentist. Often this type of condition can be managed by antibiotics and pain killers.

Is a root canal covered by my dental insurance? 

Root canals are necessary procedures to allow the patient to save their tooth. Plus, they prevent the infection from worsening and potentially spreading. That means they are covered by dental insurance. Of course, individual plans vary widely on how much coverage they provide, so it’s a good idea to check with your carrier to avoid any surprises. 

What should I expect during my root canal consultation?

It’s likely Dr. Richard Winter or Dr. Bruce Winter will be performing your root canal. During your consultation, they encourage you to ask any and all questions you have about the procedure. There is a good deal of misinformation about this process, so we like to help patients better understand what is involved with the root canal from start to finish. 

After it’s apparent that decay and bacteria have entered the interior of your tooth, a root canal is the only way to save the tooth. We’ll explain why this is necessary, and what happens if you don’t have a root canal (likely tooth extraction). 

At the end of your consultation, you should know everything you ever wanted to know about a root canal.


Call (414) 464-9021 for information on any of our services.

Hampton Dental Associates is proud to offer affordable dentistry programs to help you regain your perfect smile.
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