Let’s face it, a root canal isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time. In fact, the very idea of it brings pain and discomfort to mind, but this mostly stems from not knowing enough about what a root canal is and the treatment. Most of the painful procedures you are used to hearing about are actually now outdated. Advances in dental technology have made most root canal procedures relatively painless. So the possibility of a root canal is no reason to avoid seeing your dentist.
What Is A Root Canal?
The root canal is the cavity containing the tooth’s pulp or soft tissue. When that pulp becomes infected or damaged, it can lead to pain, an abscess, or even the loss of the tooth. You’ll want to see the dentist as soon as possible to remove the infected pulp and fill the area. This will ease your pain and keep your mouth healthy. The procedure is nothing to fear, and brings much needed relief.
When Is A Root Canal Procedure Necessary?
A root canal procedure is generally needed when an injury, decay or infection has damaged the soft tissue and nerves below the tooth. This can be caused by a trauma, a cracked tooth, a cavity, or an infection that goes beyond the surface of the tooth. Usually candidates for root canal procedures are already experiencing consistent pain which is a warning sign to see your dentist right away.
What Does A Root Canal Procedure Involve?
The root canal procedure involves removing the soft tissue affected and cleaning the area, then filling and sealing it. The first step is an examination and X-rays to determine the extent and location of the damage. If your dentist determines that a root canal procedure is the best option, they will schedule a separate appointment for treatment.
The day of the procedure, you’ll get local anesthesia to numb the area to minimize discomfort. Next, your dentist will put a small rubber sheet called a dental dam in place to isolate the area. Then he will make an opening in the tooth using a small drill. For back teeth, the hole is made in the chewing surface, for front teeth, the hole is made in back of the tooth. Next he’ll remove the affected pulp using a series of tiny metal files and wash the area with a disinfectant solution. Once the tissue has been removed, the canal will be filled with a rubber-like dentistry material called gutta percha, along with a dental cement to keep it in place. The tooth itself will then be sealed with a filling.
Will I Need A Crown After A Root Canal?
In most cases, your dentist will want to put a crown over the tooth after the root canal procedure. This is because when the underlying pulp and nerve tissue is removed, the tooth is no longer alive and is more susceptible to breaking. Covering the tooth with a crown provides protection and also creates a more natural looking tooth.
How Long Does A Root Canal Take?
In some cases, your root canal can be done in one visit. In others, your dentist will want to take care of removing the pulp and cleaning in one visit. Filling and sealing the area will then take place during a second visit around a week later. Sometimes if the tooth is badly infected, your dentist may want to continue the disinfection process with medication over that week as well. But in many cases, just one visit is needed and should take around 90 minutes (although appointment length will vary according to a number of factors). In some cases, your tooth will have more than one canal that needs treatment, which can lead to a longer appointment.
Your Dentist: Getting To The Root Of Tooth Pain
As we remind our patients regularly; see your dentist regularly for check ups. This can help us avoid more intensive and expensive treatments—like a root canal. But you should know that if you need one, it’s not the end of the world!
If you’re in pain, call your dentist right away. So many patients ignore tooth pain out of fear that treatment will be worse. But technological advances have gone a long way toward making dentistry faster and more comfortable. Even in the case of the dreaded root canal, your treatment will help far more than it hurts.