Few dental procedures instill fear in the hearts of patients as the infamous ‘root canal.’ The procedure is often associated with pain, long inspiring statements such as “I’d rather have a root canal than go through that.” Sure, this might have been true a couple of decades ago, but with modern advances in technology, the procedure is now nearly painless.
A dentist usually recommends a root canal for severe cases of tooth damage, where the decay has reached the nerve of the tooth. Therefore, rather than extract the whole tooth, the dentist or endodontist will remove your tooth’s pulp and nerve, clean and then seal your tooth’s insides. Afterward, your tooth and the surrounding tissues should be safe from further infection.
If you are considering a root canal, familiarizing yourself with the procedure can go a long way in reducing any anxiety. To help shed some light, here is what you can expect in the moments leading up to a root canal.
Dentist Performs X-ray
Before starting the actual treatment, the dentist usually performs a series of x-rays on the affected tooth. This should give them a clear picture of your tooth’s state and the extent of damage to it. It should also help spot any infection affecting the surrounding bone.
The Dentist Preps Area
Before doing anything else, your dentist will do a few things to get you prep you up:
- First, they’ll sit you down in the appointment area and explain the whole process that is about to happen. They usually do this by showing you the x-ray and pointing out the problematic areas.
- Once you agree to the procedure, the dentist will then set up the area where the procedure will be performed, and get you positioned comfortably on the chair.
- Finally, they will place a rubber sheet or dam around the affected tooth to keep it dry during treatment.
The rubber dam also keeps you from breathing in or swallowing the chemicals the dentist will use during treatment.
The Dentist Drills Access Into Tooth to Remove Pulp
The next part is the pulp removal. Here the dentist will perform a series of operations:
• They’ll start by drilling through the crown (the flat top part of the tooth), in order to get to the soft tissue at your tooth’s center (pulp).
• Then they will remove any infected pulp, decayed nerve tissue and bacterial.
• If there is any puss-filled swelling or a dental abscess, the dentist will also drain it at this point.
The dentist cleans and fills up the root canal
Once the infected pulp is removed, the dentist then cleans and enlarges the root canal. In its natural state, the root canal is really narrow, which makes it hard to fill. Therefore, the dentist uses small files to make it a bit larger. This part is especially delicate, and depending on the tooth, it might take several hours or a number of visits in some cases.
Your incisors and canines will have one root canal, while the premolars and molars have one to two root canals. The more the roots, the longer the procedure will take.
During the moments between the visits, the tooth is usually sanitized then sealed with a temporary filling. If you show symptoms of infection, like fever or swelling, the dentist will also recommend antibiotics to manage them.
The Tooth is Sealed.
During the final visit, the temporary filling will be removed, and the final root canal filling put in place. The tooth is then sealed to prevent reinfection. Also, the dentist might place an additional crown to prevent the tooth from breaking.
Root-filled teeth tend to darken or discolor. If this happens, the dentist can treat the discoloration by whitening using chemicals.
Join The Foote Fam!
Well, there you have it. As you’ve seen, a root canal is not exactly the agonizing experience it’s painted out to be. Nowadays is about as common as getting a cavity filling or a set of braces. At Foote Family Dental Care, we have all the expertise and tools to perform the procedure as efficiently and painlessly as possible. If you need a root canal contact us today and schedule an appointment.