There are many misconceptions about root canal treatments, how they are performed and what is involved with the procedure. The procedure is aimed at removing the pulp and nerves that have become infected from the tooth and not the actual root of the tooth. A root canal treatment is also not as painful as is often described and a patient should experience only mild discomfort.
So what exactly is a root canal treatment and what is the best procedure? A root canal involves the following steps:
- The dentist will diagnose the condition and take an x-ray.
- The area will be numbed using a local anesthetic.
- A hole will be drilled into the tooth to give the dentist access to the pulp and nerves.
- The infected pulp and decayed nerve tissue will be removed.
- The tooth is cleaned and sealed.
- A temporary or permanent filling will be placed.
- A crown, post or other restorative procedure may be performed if necessary.
The best procedure for a root canal treatment commonly takes place over 3 appointments:
During the first appointment, the dentist will diagnose the condition and take an x-ray to confirm the diagnosis and the extent of the infection. If the infection has spread, an abscess may have formed. Antibiotics will be prescribed to eliminate the infection before the root canal procedure can be performed.
2). Root Canal Procedure
The dentist will rub a numbing gel on the gum surrounding the affected tooth. A local anesthetic will then be injected to numb the nerves in the tooth and gum. In many cases, the root is decayed or dead and an anesthetic is not entirely necessary. However, an anesthetic will still be injected to numb any sensation to reduce or eliminate pain and discomfort associated with a root canal treatment.
The dentist will then place a dam in the mouth to catch excess while drilling a hole in the tooth. The dentist will then drain the tooth and remove the infected pulp as well as the decayed nerve. Lastly, the dentist will clean the inside of the tooth to remove any residual infection.
If an infection is still present, the dentist will treat the tooth and place a temporary filling to prevent saliva and bacteria from entering the hollow root canal. An appointment will be scheduled to seal the tooth and perform other necessary restorative procedures about a week later.
3). Sealing And Restoration
The dentist will ensure that there is no infection before sealing the tooth. The root canal will be filled using a rubber compound and a sealing paste. The access hole will then be filled in the same way a cavity would normally be filled.
In most cases, a tooth that requires a root canal has deteriorated or decayed and is in need of restoration. Commonly, a crown is placed in the tooth in order to ensure that it fulfils its function and that doesn’t leave a gap in the mouth. The dentist may also place a post in order to secure the tooth and provide better stability.
Lastly, your dentist will provide you with aftercare instructions as well as good dental hygiene practices to prevent future infections and the need for further root canal treatment. It is important to note that the treatment area and mouth can stay numb for a few hours after the procedure and that care should be taken not to bite the cheeks and tongue.
A root canal treatment can be a frightening prospect due to the myths and misconceptions that have been created regarding the procedure. If you have any concerns, speak to a dentist about the best procedure for a root canal treatment to allay any unnecessary fears.