Without prior knowledge of the nature of root canal, most people tend to subscribe to the popular belief that this procedure is a lengthy, painful one that ought to be feared and avoided. However, by arming yourself with the correct information from qualified dental professionals, you can understand the purpose of the procedure and the steps involved — not to mention discover the benefits that root canal can provide to your overall oral health.
Here’s a few root canal expectations:
What is it?
Inside a tooth, underneath the visible white enamel and a harder layer called the dentin, a soft tissue called the pulp can be found. The pulp contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue. When this pulp becomes infected or inflamed, you may be advised to undergo root canal treatment; this involves removing the damaged pulp, cleaning and disinfecting the tooth, and then filling and sealing it.
What are the signs/causes that will let your dentist know you need root canal?
Root canal is typically recommended by a dentist (or a specialist who primarily performs root canal surgery, called an endodontist) when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected because of a crack in the tooth, a deep cavity, trauma, or dental treatments repeatedly performed on the tooth.
Other symptoms that could lead your dentist to prescribe root canal include lingering, spontaneous or positional tooth pain, an abscess (or referred pain due to an abscess), or the presence of a fistula on your gums.
Diagnosing whether root canal is needed or not requires careful and extensive consideration of your condition and all other possible treatments, so you need to engage in a thorough discussion with your dentist or the referred endodontist.
What are the steps of the procedure?
- If your dentist suspects that you require root canal, he will take or examine X-rays that can identify the location of the infected pulp. This can take place during the dental visits that come before the actual treatment.
- On the day of the treatment, the dentist will administer a local anesthesia to the affected tooth.
- Your dentist may place a rubber dam (a sheet of latex) over your mouth to isolate and protect the affected tooth from contamination.
- An opening is then made through the crown of the tooth to the pulp chamber.
- The dentist uses special files to remove the infected pulp and to clean out the canal. The canals will then be shaped as needed for the filling material. Afterwards, dentists use irrigation to remove debris and further clean out the canals.
- Next, the canals are filled with a permanent material, typically something called the gutta-percha, to prevent the canals from becoming contaminated or infected once again.
- A temporary filling material is now placed on top of the gutta-percha; this is meant to keep the opening sealed until the tooth receives a permanent filling or crown (also called a cap, which looks like a natural tooth) on top of the original tooth. Sometimes dentists place a post next to the gutta-percha in the root, for more support.
- Finally, the crown is cemented into place.
How long does the procedure take/how many visits will be required?
Root canal treatments can last for several hours so most patients are advised to bring a book or music player to help pass the time. The entire treatment can be completed in one or two appointments, depending on your specific dental condition and circumstances.
Some dentists will consider completing the treatment in one visit for the patient’s convenience, while others prefer to wait for the tooth to dry and empty out, and then disinfect it a second time, before filling it.
Is it painful?
You can expect some pain or soreness which typically peaks 17 to 24 hours after the procedure. You can take pain medication prescribed by the dentist or sleep with your head elevated for the first one or two nights to alleviate pain. In some cases, there may be no pain at all.
How should you take care of your teeth after root canal?
Practice good oral hygiene habits like brushing and flossing normally. Don’t bite or chew on the treated tooth until it has been restored with a crown, to prevent fracture.
What are the benefits of getting root canal?
After undergoing root canal, your tooth will appear natural, you can perform efficient chewing, and you can experience the normal biting force and sensations as you did before the treatment. Likewise, getting the treatment helps protect your other teeth from excess strain or wear.
If you have more questions about root canal expectations, call the dental professionals at Nicholas Dental Care. The knowledgeable dentists will help ease any anxiety you may have about an upcoming procedure.