A root canal is the best option for treating a severely damaged or decayed tooth that cannot be restored with fillings or other treatments. Although a root canal is more involved than a standard filling, there is very little to be scared about if you understand what the procedure entails.
Before the Procedure:
Your dentist will start by taking an X-ray to determine the exact shape of the tooth roots and to identify any possible infection in the bone surrounding the affected tooth. The area near the tooth will then be numbed using a local anesthetic. Most patients find that the procedure is no more uncomfortable than having a cavity filled. This is also the perfect time to ask any questions you may have about the procedure.
The Root Canal Procedure:
One you are comfortably numb, your dentist will place a small piece of rubber or latex called a dental dam around the tooth to keep the area clean and dry. The dentist will then use a drill to create an opening in the tooth. Small instruments called root canal files are then used to remove the damaged nerve and the decay and bacteria from the roots of the tooth. Once the tooth is completely clean, the dentist will place some medication inside and seal it with a temporary filling. In most cases, you will wait one to two weeks to ensure that there are no further signs of infection or discomfort. On your return visit, the dentist will fill the tooth canals with a rubbery substance called gutta percha, which is then followed by a regular filling to cover the exterior access hole. It is important to note that a root canal does compromise the strength and structural integrity of the tooth, so it is advisable to cover the remaining tooth with a crown to prevent it from breaking.
After the Procedure:
Your tooth and the surrounding tissue may be sensitive and inflamed for a few days following your root canal. In most cases, this discomfort is easily controlled with over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or naproxen, and you should be able to resume your normal activities the next day. Until your permanent crown and filling are in place, you should avoid chewing on the affected side as much as possible.
For more information about any of our dental procedures or to schedule a root canal consultation, contact us at 480-306-5506.