What is a Root Canal?
A root canal is a dental procedure that must be performed when the patient’s natural tooth becomes severely decayed or infected. At Smiles R Us Dentistry, root canals are one of the most commonly performed endodontic procedures today.
All teeth have an internal core comprised of soft tissue, called the dental pulp. The dental pump runs from the top of the tooth all the way to the root, which contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue that feeds the tooth nutrients for growth. When a tooth becomes decayed or infected, the pulp is broken down, which creates an abscess. If left untreated, it could cause severe health issues. This is when a root canal is needed to help preserve the remaining structure of the tooth.
Symptoms of a Damaged Pulp
When cavities are left untreated, the bacteria can eat away at the enamel of the tooth and infect the pulp. However, there are instances where the pulp may be damaged due to trauma to the tooth. When the blood supply is cut off from the tooth, the pulp tissue dies.
Patients experiencing the following symptoms may have a damaged pulp and should seek dental help as soon as possible:
- Discoloration of the tooth
- Swelling of the tooth or gums
- Sensitivity to hot or cold
- Chronic pain
The Root Canal Procedure
Root canals are typically completed within a few separate visits, depending on the severity of the infection. After the initial consultation and X-rays revealing the origins of the infection, we drill an opening in the tooth. From there, the damaged pulp will be scooped out to remove the infected areas. The canals of the tooth will also be cleaned and rinsed with a special solution made of water and hypochlorite. Once the canals are clear, a temporary dental filling will be used to plug the tooth while it heals. This can all be accomplished within one visit.
Upon the second visit, we remove the temporary filling and once again clean out the pulp chamber and roots canals. After that, we will fill the inside of the tooth with a biocompatible material and cement it to the tooth using a sealer paste. The final step is to cover the remainder of the tooth with a dental crown or other restorative material. Though some patients think the root canal procedure is painful, that is generally not the case. Local anesthesia is used to numb the affected area before beginning the process. Once the procedure is complete, patients may experience sensitivity for a couple of days, which may be remedied with over-the-counter medications.
Root Canal Results
Root canals are generally considered very successful treatments because most patients are alleviated from painful symptoms after the procedure. While some pain and sensitivity may occur after the procedure, discomfort may be relieved with over-the-counter medications. While most patients don’t experience complications from the procedure, there is always a risk that the tooth could become infected again down the line. In that case, patients will have to undergo root canal re-treatment. However, if the patient maintains good oral health, root canal treatments can last a long time.