You may have heard the phrase “It’s more pleasant than a root canal” and come to the conclusion that a root canal is a terribly unpleasant experience, but that’s simply not true. A root canal will likely leave you in much less pain than you had prior to the operation, and with advances in dental procedures, we’re able to do a much better job controlling discomfort during the operation than decades ago.
But why exactly would a person need a root canal, and what happens during the procedure? We answer those questions and more in today’s blog.
What Happens During A Root Canal?
A root canal is a dental procedure that is designed to repair and save your teeth instead of removing it when treating moderate to severe dental conditions. For example, deep root canals can be used to treat damaged teeth, decaying treating, a fractured tooth, tooth infections or deep cavities. Left untreated, these conditions can lead to the onset of an infection of the tissues around the root of your tooth. When this happens, you’re at risk of losing your tooth and even suffering damage to the bones in your jaw.
So if you’re dealing with conditions that could lead to an infection, your dentist may recommend a root canal. Prior to the procedure, your dentist will take x-ray images of your teeth and surrounding bone to get a better understanding of what they’re working with. This may occur during your first dental visit when it’s uncovered that you need a root canal, or right before the procedure, depending on how the problem was detected.
Once x-rays are complete, your dentist will administer a local anesthetic so that you are comfortable and pain and discomfort is minimized. Once your mouth is numb, a thin sheet of latex is placed over your tooth to keep it dry and reduce the risk of infection. From there, your dentist will create an opening in the top of your tooth and remove the nerve from inside your tooth and in the root. They will then clean the inside of the tooth and treat it with bacteria-killing medication. The root canals are then filled with a sealant that protects it from future infections. Finally, the dentist will place a temporary filling on the hole they made and the procedure is complete, although you will need to return to the dentist at a later date to have the temporary filling removed and a permanent filling put in its place.
After the procedure, it’s likely that your tooth and the surrounding area will feel sensitive for a few days. Any discomfort during this time is usually best managed with over-the-counter pain medications, but for more moderate cases of pain, your dentist may be able to prescribe you a short script for pain medications. You will also typically be given antibiotics to protect against the possibility of an infection.
When performed correctly by a skilled dentist, your root canal should be a permanent fix to your tooth issue, but you’ll still want to practice good dental habits, which include brushing twice a day, flossing, eating a healthy diet and getting regular dental exams. For more information about root canals, or to talk to a dentist about a tooth issue you’re having, reach out to Dr. Brooks’ office today.
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