A root canal (aka endodontic therapy) is a common procedure used by dentists to clean out infected teeth. Teeth can become infected for a variety of reasons. Many times, the nerve inside a tooth becomes infected as a result of trauma – either a broken tooth or a hard bump that may not even leave any external blemishes. Sometimes, it can take years for a tooth to become infected and noticeably decay before you feel anything. A dentist may recommend endodontic therapy even if you don’t yet feel any pain.
Many patients get nervous when they hear the words “root canal.” Anyone who’s had a root canal procedure done can tell you that there’s almost no pain involved. A hundred years ago, before the popular use of anesthetic, this was true. Yet for some reason, this stereotype still lasts. The pain most people associate with root canals is actually from the infection before they seek help. Your dentist is invested in making endodontic therapy as relaxing as possible. He or she will apply anesthetic and protect the procedure area with a rubber dam to keep out any saliva. This dam allows you to swallow normally during the operation.
Next, the dentist drills a small hole into the inner part of your tooth to remove any infected pulp and dead nerve cells. This fluid is what’s causing the pain you’ve felt. Using varying sizes of tools, your dentist will then clean out the roots and remove any dangerous abscesses or liquid that lie in your jaw. At this point, your first procedure may be over. Not every root canal takes more than one appointment, but some will pause once the cleaning is done. You’ll leave with a temporary crown until your next appointment.
Once a tooth has been cleaned, it’s important to protect it against future infections. The spaces inside a tooth are commonly filled by gutta-percha, a semi-organic material made from the sap of gutta-percha trees. This natural latex is lightweight and durable. Finally, the tooth is capped with a crown and the tooth is just as strong as it was before!
Feeling recurring pain in your teeth? Call The Dental Center to talk to a qualified professional about if you’re a good candidate for a root canal and what you can expect from the procedure.