What is a root canal?
When talking about root canals, it is important to know that every tooth has an at least one root or more. A large molar in the back of the mouth can have up to four roots. An abscess or abscesses can grow at a tooth’s root, causing irritation, inflammation and pain which left untreated may lead to infection. When this happens, dentists may perform a root canal, where they will clean out the affected tooth or teeth, remove the decay and treat the abscess or abscesses, filling the tooth or teeth with gutta percha (a rubber-like material), top it off with a metal filling, and cap the tooth with a new crown so that it won’t break. In some more complicated cases, our doctors may refer you to an endodontist, a root canal expert.
What might cause me to need a root canal?
The main reason for a root canal treatment to be used is to repair and save a tooth or teeth which are badly decayed or may have become infected. During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp are removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed. Without treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth will become infected and this can result in painful dental abscesses.
- Invasion of bacteria into the mouth, teeth, and gums,
- Improper daily dental hygiene practices
- Dislodges fillings,
- Damage due to accident or trauma.
What is involved in the procedure?
A root canal is a simple treatment which usually takes 1 or 2 appointment visits. There is very little pain because your dentist will use a local anesthesia. This means you won’t feel any pain during the procedure. Once complete, you should no longer feel the pain you felt before having it done.
- The dentist may perform an X-rays to get a clear image of the tooth and mouth.
- Numb the area around and including your tooth so you are comfortable during the treatment.
- Put a thin sheet of latex rubber over your tooth to keep it dry, clean and protected from viruses, bacteria, and fungus that are normally in the mouth.
Your dentist will begin by creating an opening in the top of your tooth then removing the tooth’s inside nerve, clean the tooth and each root to clear any decay or harmful bacteria. Your dentist may treat the tooth with germ-killing medicine. Continuing the procedure by filling in the root canals with a rubber-like material, gutta percha, to seal the tooth against bacteria and infection. Your dentist will finish by placing a temporary filling on the tooth protecting it until a more permanent restoration or a permanent filling or crown can be added. Another appointment will be made for the permanent restoration, thus completing the treatment.
Aftercare may depend on a series of factors, this can include various required procedures to complete your treatment, however, it is generally the norm that once a root canal has been performed, maintaining a daily practice good oral hygiene ensures a limited risk of infection and other issues. Avoid biting your tongue or the inside of the cheeks until the anaesthetic has worn off.
If the patient does not practice dental hygiene, like flossing and daily brushing this may lead a build up of bacteria resulting in swelling and an oral infection.
After the procedure, the patient may be numb after the local anesthesia but there may be a little discomfort, slight swelling and bleeding may occur after brushing, this is normal. If this persists and is painful after a period of time of healing, then consult your dentist as soon as possible.
The dentist may recommend the following;
- Avoid eating chewy foods until the numbness has worn off.
- If the temporary crown becomes dislodged or feels uncomfortable, please call us to get this repaired as soon as possible.
- Do not attempt to re-glue the temporary crown back in or prolong getting this fixed, this may result in tooth sensitivity and pain, the tooth may swell and shift slightly, this could prevent the placement of the permanent crown. Call us and book an appointment with your dentist as soon as you can.