Understanding Root Canal Therapy

Root canal, or endodontic, treatment is an often straightforward procedure to relieve dental pain and save your teeth. Millions of teeth are treated and saved each year with root canal treatment.

Root canal treatment is necessary when the pulp, the soft tissue inside the root canal, becomes inflamed or infected due to:

  • Deep decay
  • Repeated dental procedures on the tooth
  • Faulty crown
  • Crack or chip in the tooth

In addition, an injury to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.

What are the signs of needing a root canal?

There are a few symptoms that mean you might need a root canal:

  • Severe pain while chewing or biting
  • Pimples on the gums
  • A chipped or cracked tooth
  • Lingering sensitivity to hot or cold, even after the sensation has been removed
  • Swollen or tender gums
  • Deep decay or darkening of the gums

Root Canal Procedure

During root canal treatment, your dentist will carefully remove the pulp inside the tooth, cleans, disinfects and shapes the root canals, and places a filling to seal the space.

What to expect after a root canal

Your tooth will have dull achy pain for 2-3 days. It will also hurt to chew on that side for 1-2 weeks. The tooth may require a crown as a final restoration to root canal therapy.

Pictures from www.aae.org

What is a dry socket?

A dry socket occurs within three days after an extraction after a blood clot falls out of the socket. This leaves this the bone exposed and is very painful due to the fact that the pain receptors in the jaw bone are exposed. Without the blood clot, the socket also takes longer to heal.

To help prevent getting a dry socket avoid the following for three days after you have a tooth extracted:

  • Drinking from a straw, smoking, or any sort of “sucking” action
  • Exercise
  • Coughing and sneezing
  • Swishing with water
  • Drinking carbonated beverages

Duties of a Dental Assistant

Dental assistant have a variety of duties. They assist the dentist by peparing the patients for treatment, sterilizing instruments, passing instruments during procedures, taking x-rays, and take dental impressions. Dental assisants also help with record keeping and general office work.

Dental assistants go through a state accredited assisting program to become registered. After completing the program assitants attend continuing education classes to maintain their license. Dental assistants can also receive an expanded function certificate which allows them to perform additional duties such as making temporary crowns and taking final impressions.

At Foust Family Dental Care we are proud to have very skilled and experienced dental assistants.

Tips for Healthy Teeth

Nutritious tips for healthy teeth:

  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Eat a variety of healthy food from the 5 major food groups.
  • Limit snacks and drinks high in sugar.
  • Cut down on snacking between meals.
  • Eat fiber rich raw food, which massage the gum and clean the teeth.
  • After eating citrus fruits or juices, rinse your mouth with water, as the acids present in them weaken enamel.
  • Avoid sipping sugary drinks, it is best to drink quickly than have continuous exposure to your teeth.

What is a Dental Implant?

An implant is an artificial tooth root made of titanium metal. The fixture is surgically embedded into the jaw bone and after a period of time to heal an abutment is placed. The abutment part of the implant sticks out of the gums and is attached to the fixture. Soon after a crown can be made to fit onto the abutment. Dental implants can replace a single tooth or several teeth. If you are missing all of your teeth implants can also be used to support a full bridge or denture. Dental implants allow people with missing teeth to be able to smile, speak, and chew well and comfortably.

Advantages to Digital X-rays

An important advantage to digital radiography is that is uses 90% less radiation than film x-rays. Digital x-rays also produce a higher quality image that can be enlarged or magnified for a better visual of an area. With screens in front of every patient chair, patients are able to view their own x-rays and be able to better understand any areas of concern. If a hard copy is needed digital x-rays can simply be printed. At Foust Family Dental Care we want to provide are patients with the safest and highest quality of dental radiography possible.

Regular Cleaning vs. Deep Cleaning

What is Periodontal Disease?

Periodontal disease starts with the formation of plaque around the teeth. Plaque is the film on your teeth caused by food and bacteria in your mouth. Plaque left on your teeth for long periods of time becomes hard and turns into tartar. The bacteria causes inflammation of the gum that become red, swollen and bleed easily. Periodontal disease can lead to damage of the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth.

Deep Cleaning: Scaling and Root Planing

Deep cleaning is done by a dentist or dental hygienist in a couple of visits. Scaling is the scraping off of the tartar from above and below the gum line. Root planing gets rid of rough spots on the tooth root where the germs gather, and help remove bacteria that contribute to the disease.

The deep cleaning is done manually or with an ultra-sonic instrument called a cavitron, or many times with a combination of both. The goal of the procedure is to eliminate the infection by removing the bacteria containing plaque and tarter that has attached to the teeth and their roots under the gum.

Can I have a regular cleaning if I have periodontal disease?

A regular cleaning only removes the plaque and tartar above the gum. Scaling and Root Planing is what is needed to get below the gum to remove plaque and tartar build up from the tooth’s root where the bone is affected by the infection.

The Anxious Patient

Our mission at Foust Family Dental Care is to provide comfortable treatments in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere so that all patients feel relaxed and welcome in our office. It’s normal for those who have had a negative past experience at a dental office is more likely to feel anxious about future apptointments. Unfortunately, avoiding regular check ups and cleanings can lead to serious tooth decay, gum disease and other avoidable dental problems.

We give every patient personalized care. Besides having a compassionate dentist, we believe having a kind staff is just as necessary to easing patient’s anxiety. Our staff listens to patients concerns and gives every patient gentle, attentive care. We offer soothing nitrous oxide sedation to help ease tension. We also use Digital X-rays that greatly reduces exposure to radiation.

At Foust Family Dental Care we provide a positive and relaxing dental experience. Come visit us at our West Des Moines office and see the difference for yourself!

What To Do When You Have a Dental Abscess

If a tooth has a dental abscess, the options are to do root canal treatment or to extract the tooth. If untreated the infection can spread to other areas of the body.

Root Canal Treatment

If a tooth has an infected pulp a new filling or crown will not treat the serious underlying problem. During root canal treatment the infected pulp is removed, the canal area is carefully cleaned and shaped, then a filling material seals the space. Afterwards a crown or other restoration is placed to protect and restore it to full function. The tooth will then continue to function like any other tooth.


The cost of an extraction might seem attractive compared to the cost of root canal treatment. But extracting the tooth is unlikely to be the most desirable or even the cheapest choice in the long run. When a tooth is missing, the adjacent teeth can be expected to shift, sometimes significantly. Even losing a single tooth can alter one’s chewing ability and effect their jaw joint. Teeth that shift can also be difficult to clean and therefore be at greater risk for tooth decay or periodontal disease.

Replacing an Extracted Tooth

It will usually be recommended by your dentist for an extracted tooth to be replaced with an artificial one. Options for replacement include bridges, implants, or partials. While these options can provide a long lasting end result, they can usually cost as much or more than saving the tooth.


If a tooth can be saved by performing root canal treatment, that is the treatment of choice. Its always best to keep your natural teeth. Root canal treatment has a very high success rate and many root canal treated teeth last a lifetime.

At Foust Family Dental Care we use the latest technology called Rotary Endodontics. This makes root canal treatment much less time consuming, often being completed in one appointment instead of two with traditional treatment. Rotary Endodontics also gives the root canal treated tooth a better, more predictable outcome.

There is no need to suffer with a toothache, if you have a tooth that is bothering you call our West Des Moines office. We see people with discomfort promptly.