Root canals allow you to retain your natural bite and smile. After root canal treatment, or also known as endodontic treatment, you will be able to bite and chew as normal, experiencing the same sensations. People are generally unable to tell a root canal has been performed, giving you a happy, healthy smile. If you follow the recommended aftercare instructions, your treated teeth may last a lifetime.
Anatomy of a Tooth
The first step to understanding the root canal procedure is learning the structure of the tooth. The white part of our teeth that we see is called the enamel. Under this, there is a hard layer of yellow dentin. Dentin makes up the bulk of the tooth. At the very center of the tooth is the pulp, a soft tissue containing nerves and blood vessels. The pulp is what allows the roots of your teeth to grow.
Adult teeth do not technically need pulp anymore and can survive without it. There will be no blood flow, but teeth will receive sufficient nourishment from the surrounding tissues. Unfortunately, such teeth will be unable to sense temperature and have a higher incident of injury, decay, and infection. Preventative care can prevent tooth pulp damage and keep teeth healthy.
Endodontists work with teeth when the pulp becomes seriously infected or inflamed for any reason. Root canals can be effective on a number of different dental issues. One common cause is severe tooth decay that has progressed to affect the tooth pulp. Old or faulty dental work may cause irritation or provide windows for infection. Trauma to the mouth or jaw may damage a tooth.
There may be a visible crack or chip, but the damage may not be readily apparent. The issue may only be noticed when the tooth becomes painful or develops an abscess. If you have regularly swelling or tenderness in your gums, severe pain when chewing, long term sensitivity to temperature, and a marked discoloration of your teeth, a root canal may be the right treatment for you. On the other hand, your problem may have no symptoms at all. Your dentist may recommend a root canal for issues detected during a routine visit.
Root Canal Treatment Process
Before your procedure, the endodontist will place a rubber dam around the tooth in order to keep the area clean and dry. A small hole will be drilled into the tooth, allowing access to the pulp. Root canal files will be used to instrument the canals of the root(s) until all of the pulp has been removed. The tooth will be periodically flushed out during the procedure, and then disinfected once the pulp is removed followed by filling the canals to prevent further infection. Your endodontist will temporarily seal the access hole to protect your tooth.
You will need to make an appointment with your dentist within three weeks. Our office will send them all treatment information. Your dentist will then restore your tooth with a crown or filling, depending on your personal needs. This will protect your tooth from further damage and ensure you retain normal use of your tooth.
While root canals are often viewed as a significant trial, the procedure is usually completed in only one or two appointments. The procedure takes approximately two hours, including the consultation. We do everything possible to make our patients comfortable during their procedure. A local anesthetic will numb the area, eliminating unpleasant sensations. After your treatment, you will be able to drive yourself home and return to your routine with few restrictions.
The experience is similar to that of getting a filling. Post-procedure discomfort is usually mild and relieved by over-the-counter analgesics. Patients should avoid chewing with the affected tooth until the final restoration is complete.
Although complications are rare, they do occur. If you experience pain, swelling, or other symptoms after your treatment, contact our office as soon as possible.