Root canal — just the sound of it makes some people anxious. But did you know that the thought of a root canal is often worse than the procedure itself? So, it pays to understand what a root canal treatment is and what steps it involves, so you can be fully prepared and informed.
What's the Objective?
A root canal is a very common procedure that becomes necessary when the inside of your tooth, i.e. the pulp, becomes inflamed or infected from deep decay or trauma. The main goal of a root canal is to clean out the infected pulp and then fill and seal the tooth, preventing further infection. A typical root canal treatment often entails the following basic steps:
- X-ray: Before starting treatment, your dentist will take X-rays to assess the condition of the tooth's roots and determine the extent of the damage.
- Anaesthetics: The treatment involves a needle to numb the area around the affected tooth. In most cases, local anaesthesia is sufficient, although sedation is required for extreme cases. You can discuss your specific case with the dentist and they will advise you.
- Pulpectomy: Once the anaesthesia is in effect, a small hole is drilled into the top of the affected tooth, allowing access to both the pulp chamber and root canals. Special instruments are then used to remove the infected pulp.
- Cleaning and Shaping: The canal is cleaned and shaped with specialised, flexible files. Once done, it is flushed with water, alcohol or sodium hypochlorite to remove the infected tissue and debris.
- Filling: The treated canal is then filled with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. After this, the dentist will close the hole with a filling material.
- Crown: Finally, the dentist may recommend a crown for additional strength because a tooth that has had a root canal is more fragile than a healthy tooth. Because of the intricate nature of root canals, this procedure generally requires more than one visit to the dentist.
The Bottom Line
Your tooth may be tender for a few days after the procedure, but the pain will be considerably reduced. With proper care, the restored tooth can last a lifetime. So, don't let fear keep you from seeking the dental care you need. Stay proactive and consult with your dentist if you experience any dental discomfort. They'll let you know if you need a root canal and what to expect next.
Talk with a dentist about root canal treatment for more information.