Protect Your Dental Health
Medically known as endodontic treatment, root canal therapy involves removing the damaged inner parts of the affected tooth. Your dentist may recommend that you undergo root canal therapy if your tooth has been severely damaged or decayed, reaching within the dental pulp. The purpose of a root canal is to save your natural tooth by removing the dental pulp that has become inflamed or infected.
What is a root canal procedure?
A root canal procedure begins with the dentist drilling a hole into the top of the tooth to allow for the access of dental instruments. They will insert instruments into this hole, cleaning out all decay and infection. After they remove the dental pulp, the resulting space is then filled and sealed.
Signs you may need a root canal include:
- A loose tooth
- Tender and swollen gums
- Darkening of a tooth
- Severe toothache when chewing or biting
- Sensitivity to extreme temperature fluctuations in the mouth
What To Expect
Before beginning your root canal procedure, your dentist will be taking x-rays of the affected tooth to visualize the shape of the root canals and to ensure that no infection is found in the bone surrounding the tooth.
Your dentist will then isolate the tooth using a rubber dam to prevent contamination. They will numb the area using a local anesthetic. Once your tooth is completely numb, they will drill a hole into the tooth and remove the dental pulp. Each tooth can have anywhere from one to four root canals. Your dentist will then clean out the space and fill it using a biocompatible material called gutta-percha.
Root Canal FAQ
Here are some frequently asked questions about root canal procedures:
Is a root canal painful?
No. Your dentist will provide you with a local anesthetic prior to your procedure, ensuring that no pain will occur during it. A root canal procedure is no more painful than receiving a dental filling. Completion of the procedure will actually remove your pain, as the source of the pain – the infected or inflamed dental pulp – will be removed.
What should I expect after my root canal?
You may experience some discomfort or sensitivity in the area of the tooth treated by the root canal procedure, which can normally be alleviated with over-the-counter pain medications. It helps to avoid chewing on the treated side of the mouth until you have healed.
How can I prevent needing a root canal procedure in the future?
The best way to prevent the need for a root canal is to keep up with your oral hygiene habits by brushing at least twice daily and flossing your teeth each day. It is also important to visit your dentist regularly for periodic dental exam and cleaning appointments.