In today's article, we are going to shed some light on a common (and commonly misunderstood) dental procedure: the root canal. Many patients fear and dread these treatments when in actuality they are painless and routine. We hope you find this information helpful!
Root canals fall under the dental field of endodontics. These procedures may be carried out by a general dentist or at a specialist's office. Then end goal of any root canal treatment is to remove the nerve tissue from the inner tooth, desensitize it and eliminate any bacteria or infection. This process allows us to save and treat many teeth that would otherwise need to be extracted.
The first step in root canal treatment is to get the tooth in question completely numb. These procedures can be time consuming, so complete anesthesia is absolutely crucial. Contrary to popular belief, modern root canal therapy is virtually painless, with the many patient leaving the office with much less pain than they were in before!
Once the patient is numb and comfortable, a small opening is made in the top of the tooth to access the innermost layer called the pulp chamber. Here, the nerve endings that cause symptoms such as pain and cold sensitivity are cleaned out from the tooth. This step is continued down the roots of the teeth, where a series of small files are used to clean and shape the root system. Once the pulp chamber and roots are completely cleaned, the tooth is filled with a thick, rubbery material called gutta percha. This step is crucial as it creates a plug against bacteria and recurrent infection.
After the treatment is complete, the top of the tooth is filled and restored, typically with a tooth-colored material. In many instances, teeth that receive root canals will need crowns for optimal strength. This is something the treating dentist will discuss with you and plan ahead of time.
As with many dental treatments, this article is a general guideline and doesn't cover all aspects of endodontic therapy. If you have been told you need a root canal or want to know more about this type of procedure, please give our office a call. We will be more than happy to ease your mind and point you in the right direction!