Root Canal Therapy
How Does Root Canal Treatment Work?
Root canal treatment repairs and saves any damaged or infected teeth. There is a lot of stigma around the term “root canal,” which people often relate to an overly-painful procedure. The truth is, having this procedure done isn’t any more uncomfortable than having a filling placed, and the treatment can save you from tooth loss now and in the future.
What is a Root Canal?
Beneath the white layer of tooth enamel and hard dentin layer, is soft tissue called pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and tissues which support the root during teeth development. In a fully formed tooth, the tooth can survive if it loses pulp because the surrounding gum tissue will feed it.
However, if the pulp becomes infected, you can experience extreme pain, bone or tooth loss. You may develop an abscess around the roots of your teeth, which if left untreated, can infect the bone. How does the pulp become infected?
- Untreated cavity or decay of the tooth
- Trauma to the tooth
- Tooth fracture
- Fractured or faulty crown that’s left untreated
- Repeated dental procedures that cause weak spots in the tooth
The bacteria that causes infection inside the pulp or around the roots only needs a small point of entry, and if you have untreated trauma or damage to a tooth, it can lead to infection.
In the past, it was common to simply pull out the tooth that was infected. We know today that saving an infected tooth is better for overall dental health. If you’re dealing with an infection, you might have pain or problems chewing. We can help remove any pain you are experiencing with this treatment.
Benefits of this Procedure
- Restores your ability to chew
- Restores normal biting sensation and force
- Gives your mouth a natural appearance
- Prevents strain or wear on other teeth
- Prevents a gap in your teeth, which would need further treatment to repair with a dental bridge
What to Expect During Treatment
First, the dentist will take X-rays to determine the extent of damage or infection. A small opening is then made in the tooth from which the infected pulp can be extracted. The dentist uses small files to withdraw the pulp, called a “polypectomy.” An abscess around the roots may also be cleaned and extracted during root canal therapy.
Once the pulp is extracted, the interior of the tooth and canals are disinfected to kill remaining bacteria and prevent new bacterial growth. A rubber-like material called gutta-percha is inserted into the tooth to seal it, and help with repair and healing. You may need a small rod inserted into the gutta-percha filling to help support the interior of your tooth and the filling or cap which will be placed on top.
During the procedure, our team will do everything they can to make you feel as comfortable as possible. Local anesthesia is used to numb the nerves around and inside the tooth. If you’re very anxious about getting this done, we can discuss the use of dental sedation to ease your visit.
In some cases, if the infection is severe, a root canal can require more than one visit. You may also need to take oral antibiotics to treat severe infections. Most of the time, a root canal can be completed in one visit. The dentist will speak with you about your options and treatment plan at your consultation so you know just what to expect.
What to Expect After Treatment
Once you’re given anesthesia, the procedure goes quickly. After the root canal is completed, a temporary filling is placed over the opening in your tooth until it’s had time to heal. Shortly after, you’ll come back to have a permanent filling or crown over it.
Once your root canal is completed, and the new filling or crown is placed, following up with proper dental care will ensure your dental health. Regular dental cleanings and checkups, and seeing your dentist immediately with any tooth changes or trauma, will help prevent another root canal.
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