Hearing “root canal” may send shivers down your spine. This is because most people associate root canals with pain. However, root canal therapy actually removes pain. If your dentist recommends a root canal, they need to save your tooth from decay or injury. Without a root canal, your dentist may need to extract your tooth. A root canal is a way to avoid pulling a tooth.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal is a procedure your dentist utilizes to repair a significantly damaged tooth. Typically, a root canal removes infected pulp from deep within the tooth. If bacteria enter the tooth, they will destroy the delicate soft tissue called the pulp.
In addition, a cavity or damage to the enamel can allow bacteria to move into the tooth. The enamel is the tooth’s defense against bacteria or other damaging substances. Unfortunately, cavities, fractures, and injury can reduce the enamel’s ability to protect the pulp, nerves, and blood vessels.
What is the Process?
Before your procedure begins, your dental team will take an x-ray of your mouth. This will allow them to see the full extent of your infection or tooth damage. If a root canal is the best treatment method, you will receive anesthesia.
In the Beginning
First, they will use a local anesthetic to numb the area completely. This step is vital to ensure you do not feel any pain during the procedure. If you are anxious about the process, talk to your dentist about sedation methods.
Next, your dentist will place a dental dam (a small piece of rubber) around your tooth to isolate it. This will help keep your tooth dry while your dentist works. Then, the dentist will begin the procedure by drilling a hole in the top of your tooth. This allows them access to the inner portions of your tooth. The next step is for your dentist to remove the infected or damaged pulp.
After they remove the pulp, they will clean and reshape the canals within your tooth. With all the bacteria gone, your dentist can fill your tooth with an acceptable dental material. Next, they seal your tooth with a temporary filling. This is because they want to avoid any bacteria from entering your tooth before you receive your permanent dental crown. This process can take a few weeks.
Why Do You Need a Root Canal?
The most common reason for a root canal is to remove an infection. For example, untreated cavities can result in the need for a root canal. If you don’t seek treatment when you feel signs of a cavity, the decay will only worsen. As a result, the decay deepens and destroys much of the pulp. In order to get rid of the infection, your dentist will need to drill into your tooth. Unfortunately, they will have to remove a large portion of your tooth, i.e., a root canal.
Another reason you may need a root canal is because of a tooth injury.