Unfortunately, when it comes to restorative dental care, some people become apprehensive about unfamiliar procedures. As a result, they may try to avoid treatments, such as root canals, even though they are beneficial.
Here is a bit of information about root canals to demystify them and dispel unwarranted fears:
What is a root canal?
A root canal is a specialized dental treatment in which the dead, inflamed or infected pulp of a tooth is extracted, and the tooth is restored with a filling and a dental crown.
The pulp of a tooth is the soft tissue that lies in the tooth’s center. It contains the tooth’s blood supply and dental nerves. When the pulp becomes inflamed or damaged, a great amount of discomfort typically results. The removal of the pulp eliminates the inflamed nerves and the pain associated with them.
Why are root canals performed?
Root canals are performed to alleviate dental discomfort and salvage a tooth. Without a root canal, many patients could only find relief from their tooth pain through a dental extraction.
How can you tell that you may need a root canal?
Here are a few indications that you may need a root canal:
- Persistent throbbing pain within a tooth
- Increased dental sensitivity to heat and cold
- Swelling of the gums around a tooth
- An abscess or pimple-like bump on the gums surrounding a tooth
- A foul-smelling liquid or pus leaking from a tooth
- Deep discoloration or darkening of a tooth
Why is a root canal performed instead of an extraction?
Salvaging a tooth is generally preferred to removing it. Once a tooth is removed, not only does the removal compromise your ability to chew properly, but it can also have other long-term effects, such as the following:
- Jawbone Atrophy. The bone of the jaw maintains its density through stimulation that passes from the crown of a tooth to its dental roots and into the jawbone. This stimulation incites the jawbone to produce additional bone cells. When a tooth is lost, the jawbone may begin to atrophy or shrink at the site of the extraction.
- Dental Misalignment. Remaining teeth in your mouth may begin to shift out of position due to the extra space allotted by the extracted tooth.
Are root canals painful?
During a root canal, the dentist uses local anesthesia to numb the treatment area. As a result, little to no discomfort is experienced throughout the procedure.
Why does a root canal take more than one appointment?
The removal of the dental pulp can be done during one appointment. However, the treated tooth is often fitted with a dental crown. Since many dental crowns are created in a dental laboratory, a second appointment is generally needed to place the permanent crown that has been created from a mold of your mouth.
What steps can you expect your dentist to perform during a root canal?
Here are the steps that your dentist will likely perform during your root canal:
- The dentist first prepares your mouth for the treatment by numbing the treatment site with a localized anesthetic. The medication is usually injected into the gums around the tooth.
- A rubber shield is placed around the tooth to protect it from oral bacteria and keep it dry throughout the procedure.
- The dentist then drills a hole into the tooth to access the root canal system and the interior pulp chamber of the tooth. The number of root canals differs based on a tooth’s location in the mouth. Molars tend to have more canals than front teeth.
- Once the drilling of the hole is complete, the dentist removes the inflamed or infected pulp from the tooth.
- Next, the interior tooth surfaces are cleaned thoroughly and disinfected.
- The empty tooth is filled with a suitable dental filling material.
- If a dental crown will be used, a mold or impression of the mouth is prepared and sent to a dental lab as a guide for the permanent crown.
- A temporary crown is placed until the permanent crown is ready for installation.
- During a subsequent visit, the temporary crown is removed, and the permanent crown is placed.
If you suspect that you may need a root canal, contact our office to schedule an appointment.