The very term, “root canal,” conjures up all sorts of negativity. In actuality, a root canal is a very helpful tool that your dentist has to solve pain issues while preserving your natural teeth. In addition to being helpful, it is often a fairly painless experience when performed by a well-trained and experienced dentist.
- The nerve of the tooth has become infected
- The pulp (the soft, inside part of the tooth) has become damaged. The actual root canal procedure involves removing the damaged nerve and pulp. As a follow-up, the tooth is then thoroughly cleaned and sealed shut to prevent infection.
If you and your dentist determine that a root canal is the best option, the following procedure will take place:
- An x-ray is taken to examine the root canal of the tooth and to determine the infection has spread to the jawbone.
- A local anesthesia is used to numb the area around the infected tooth.
- A rubber dam is used to keep the work area dry while the dentist is working.
- An access hole is drilled which allows the dentist to clear the infected tooth of pulp, nerve tissue, and bacteria. This part of the process usually takes the longest and involves a series of ever-larger files to clean out the root canal thoroughly. The dentist will occasionally flush the area with water to keep it clean.
- The next step is to seal the tooth to prevent future infection. Depending on the situation and the dentist, this may be done immediately or a few days later. If it is done at a future appointment, the dentist will put a temporary filling to protect the tooth and root canal until the next appointment.
- Next, the dentist will fill the interior of the tooth and the root canal with a special compound.
- The final step will vary depending on the condition of the tooth. Usually, some type of restorative work is necessary to address aesthetic issues or the functionality of the tooth.
While you should consult with your dentist for a definite diagnosis, there are several symptoms that could indicate the need for a root canal.
They include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Tenderness and/or swelling in the gums near the tooth in need of a root canal
- Severe pain in a tooth while chewing or upon the application of pressure
- A lasting sensitivity or pain due to hot or cold temperatures even once the extreme temperature has been taken away
- A discolored tooth