A root canal is a very common dental procedure. Over 15 million root canals are performed each year. Despite this, many of our patients are still fearful of the process. If your dentist has recently told you that you’re in need of a root canal, you may be a bit nervous and not know what to expect. If that’s the case, Advanced Indiana is here to alleviate your fears. Here’s some good news right off the bat: root canals don’t hurt, and many patients that have had one compare the experience to that of a routine filling.
Today, we’ll be telling you exactly what to expect during a root canal. Although this procedure sparks fear in many people, it’s a very simple procedure. Each year, millions of teeth are both treated and saved with a root canal procedure. Once you have all of the facts (which we’ll be providing in this article), you’ll likely feel much better about having a root canal.
What is a Root Canal?
Before we get to the specifics of what to expect during a root canal, allow us to explain what a root canal is and how it works. A root canal, also known as endodontic treatment, removes the pulp both from inside the tooth and the inner chambers of the roots. The dental pulp is the tooth’s inner soft connective tissue that contains the tooth’s blood supply, nerves, and blood vessels. When a tooth reaches full maturity, it can survive without the pulp. This is because the tooth will continue to be nourished by the tissues which surround it. After a root canal procedure, most patients will also need to have their tooth strengthened by placing a crown over the tooth.
Why Root Canals Are Needed
If your dentist has told you that a root canal is on the horizon, you may be wondering why exactly you need one. The most common reason that most people will find themselves in need of a root canal is that they are experiencing severe (often excruciating) pain in the affected tooth. When the tooth’s pulp becomes infected, this causes a very painful toothache. In some cases, an abscess may form and, if left untreated, the bacteria from the infected tooth can spread to other parts of the body. This is when things become dire, as this spread can cause serious illness, perhaps even death, and this is the main reason that seeking out a root canal is crucial for those who need it.
Another common reason that a root canal is needed is to save your natural tooth from being extracted. A missing tooth causes the surrounding teeth to shift and may even require a bridge or dental implant to replace it. Once fully restored, a tooth that has been treated with a root canal can remain in place, functioning as it once did.
Finally, another scenario in which a root canal may be required is in the case of a cracked or broken tooth. When a tooth breaks or cracks, this can expose the attached nerve, which is incredibly painful. Having a root canal will eliminate tooth pain, reduce inflammation, and remove the infection from the mouth before it can do any further damage.
The Root Canal Procedure
So, what should you expect from your upcoming root canal procedure? While a dentist can perform root canals, general dentists will often refer patients to an endodontist for a root canal, as they are root canal specialists. In either case, the professional working with you will take an x-ray of the affected tooth to verify whether or not a root canal is possible.
Once your dentist has determined that a root canal is the best course of action for you, they will administer a local anesthetic to the area to ensure that you don’t feel any pain or discomfort on the day of the procedure. This is fortunate as most people with a fear of dental procedures are fearful due to the chance that they will experience pain during the process. When getting a root canal, your dentist will make sure that you’re as comfortable as possible. In some cases, your dentist may even offer comfort dentistry or nitrous oxide to relax you even further during the procedure.
Next, your dentist will likely place a dental dam over your mouth. This is done to isolate the tooth in need of a root canal and prevent any debris from entering your mouth. After this is done, your dentist will proceed to drill away the tooth decay and remove the inside of the tooth that contains the pulp. Next, your dentist will use particular files to rub away anything inside the root of the tooth.
Once your dentist determines that all infected areas have been removed, they will proceed to disinfect the inside of the tooth before filling it up. To fill the tooth’s roots, your dentist will utilize gutta-percha, a form of natural latex, before using a harder composite to seal the tooth’s crown portion. At this point, the root canal procedure itself is complete.
Following your root canal procedure, it should be noted that you may experience some soreness or pain as the local anesthetic wears off. This will, however, begin to fade away within a short amount of time. Your dentist may prescribe an antibiotic and/or a prescription painkiller. For the next few days following the procedure, it is highly recommended that you eat softer foods and chew on the opposite side of your mouth from the treated tooth. Continue to brush and floss your teeth as usual.
Trust the Root Canal Experts at Advanced Indiana
Now that you know the complete process associated with getting a root canal, we hope that you’re feeling more at ease. Still, the key to a completely painless root canal experience is a skilled professional. If you’re in need of a dentist that offers all of the dental services you need to keep your mouth happy and healthy, look no further than Advanced Indiana! Our knowledgeable staff is prepared to help you with any dental issues, all while keeping a check on your oral health regularly. Book an appointment online today or give us a call at (765) 622-7000 (our Anderson office) or (317) 485-7000 (our Fortville office). We want to help you on your journey to a brighter, healthier smile!
Photo by Cedric Fauntleroy from Pexels