There are over 15 million root canals performed every year in the United States alone. It’s one of the most common ways to treat serious decay that’s reached the inner part of a tooth.
Despite its popularity, root canal treatment is one of the most feared and misunderstood dental treatments available today. Accurate information helps you ensure the procedure goes well or could prevent you from needing it at all.
Root canal treatments can help you keep your natural teeth for as long as possible by removing infected or decayed material. When accurately performed by a professional, they’re relatively painless with a high success rate.
Read our root canal guide to learn what the treatment entails, what to do after, and where to find a qualified professional to perform it.
Root Canal Treatment
Each tooth contains several components. The crown or visible area of your tooth is connected by the root canal to the pulp chamber which is full of blood vessels, connective tissue, nerves, and other essential components.
Root canal treatment preserves your natural teeth by removing sources of infection, inflammation, or decay. They do so through three steps; diagnosis, pulp removal, and filling and crowning.
There are symptoms to look for that indicate you may need one, including:
- Enlarged lymph nodes
- Tooth pain and aches
- Tooth discoloration and/or darkening
- Temperature sensitivity
- Pain while chewing
Dentists will look for these symptoms as the first step in any root canal treatment. They may also take an x-ray of the affected tooth or perform electric or thermal pulp testing.
After obtaining an accurate diagnosis, the dentist will administer anesthesia and may place a rubber dam around the affected tooth to isolate it.
To remove the decayed pulp, an access hole must be drilled in the back of the affected tooth.
The dentist will measure the depth of the tooth’s canals to know how deep they have to clean and how much filling they need. To do so, they’ll use diagnostic x-rays, radiographs, or an apex locator.
Endodontic files are the names for the tools used to remove all the unhealthy tissue during a root canal procedure. They come in a variety of sizes to ensure that all the infection is removed.
Once the root canal is cleaned out, it needs to be filled in again. This step may look different for each patient.
If the tissue around the affected tooth was already infected, patients will receive a temporary filling and antibiotics. They’ll have to return for another visit when the infection heals to have a permanent filling put in and sealed.
If there is no previous infection, the patient can move on to the next step of the process; crowning the tooth. This involves placing a metal cap over the tooth to protect it from breakage and further infection.
After The Procedure
Once a root canal is completed, the responsibility shifts to you as the patient to maintain it. You must keep up your oral hygiene, be careful what you eat, and more. There are also other things you should expect after the procedure.
Root canals are essentially another name for a nerve. When they get infected, they must be removed, severing their connection to the affected tooth.
The absence of a nerve after a root canal can cause some unusual sensations. For example, it won’t be sensitive to hot or cold sensations anymore.
Root canal pain or inflammation following the procedure is common. There are several reasons it may occur, including inflamed tissue or gums, instrument damage, or improper fillings.
Many patients believe root canal treatment leads to long-lasting discomfort, but this is no longer true thanks to modern medical advances. Any sensitivity or inflammation should go away after a few days.
Your dentist may also prescribe antibiotics, antiinflammatory, or pain-relieving medications. These should help relieve any unpleasant symptoms you have. If they don’t go away after a few days, it could be signs of a more serious problem.
Most dentists will want to follow up with you after a root canal to ensure that the procedure was a success and that you haven’t developed any further infection. Be sure to go to this appointment and prepare for it with proper oral health practices.
Finding a Root Canal Dentist
48% of patients considered a root canal treatment over an extraction based on a dentist’s recommendation. When you undergo this necessary but major procedure, you want to make sure it’s done by a professional you can trust.
Dentists are trained in performing a root canal procedure. If you’ve seen the same dentist for years and are comfortable with them, consider having them perform your root canal treatment.
You may want to see a specialist for more professional care. An endodontist specializes in treating the inside of your teeth. They’ll be able to correct a root canal and any other nasty symptoms of long-lasting decay.
If you don’t know which root canal dentist to see, look for recommendations. Research online and ask friends and family who the best provider is.
Finding the right professional to perform your procedure provides a wide range of benefits including reducing root canal pain and improving the likelihood of a successful procedure. Look here to find the right dentist for your needs.
Where Can I Learn More?
There’s no need for patients to fear a root canal treatment if a qualified dentist recommends it. It’s the best way to save natural teeth from decay.
A dentist or endodontist who specializes in the inside of teeth can remove all the infected material, refill the affected tooth, and place a crown over it. You may have some pain or inflammation, but this should only last a few days.
As long as you choose a qualified dentist to perform your root canal, you’ll notice a reduction in pain and an improved quality of life. Knowing as much as you can about the procedure before getting it helps you make the right decision.
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