In the past, you would easily lose a tooth that had an injury or infected nerve. Today, however, you can save a tooth with a dental procedure known as a root canal. A root canal procedure involves first removing the infected pulp and nerves of a tooth before cleaning and sealing the resulting void as protection. Afterward, a crown is placed over the treated tooth to enhance its strength.
Here’s a look at some of the most frequently asked questions about root canal treatment.
What is a root canal treatment?
Also referred to as endodontics, a root canal is performed when a tooth’s nerves or blood supply system is infected through decay or injury. This part of the tooth is known as the pulp. If left untreated, the infection of the pulp may spread, and you’ll need to have the tooth removed.
Is a root canal procedure painful?
Root canal treatment helps to eliminate pain, not cause it. Advances in the field of endodontics have made the procedure an almost pain-free experience that typically requires only a single appointment to complete.
Endodontists are highly trained and experienced in pain management. In fact, most patients have admitted that they were comfortable during the entire procedure.
When do I need a root canal?
You might be a candidate for a root canal if you have the following symptoms:
- Discomfort when biting or chewing
- A discomfort that makes you lose sleep at night
- Mild ache or severe pain
- Lingering sensitivity to cold or hot
If you experience any of these symptoms, visit your dentist as soon as possible. They will examine you to determine if you need a root canal, and refer you to an endodontist.
What happens during a root canal procedure?
Before the procedure, your endodontist will numb the area. He’ll then make a tiny hole in your tooth to access the pulp chamber and canals and remove the infected tissue.
Afterward, the canal and pulp chamber are disinfected to the root ends. They are then filled with a biocompatible material and sealed with adhesive cement. A temporary filling will be placed on the access hole.
What happens after the procedure?
You may experience increased sensitivity for a few days. Fortunately, you can use over-the-counter pain medication or anti-inflammatories like ibuprofen to relieve the discomfort. Your endodontist will advise you to avoid chewing on the treated tooth until it receives a permanent filling.
The filling may be placed after a couple of days. Depending on the severity of the tooth damage, you may need a full-coverage crown. Your dentist will advise you accordingly.