Root canal therapy fits under the special dentistry area known as endodontic. Endodontic literally means dentistry within the tooth itself. The procedure deals with the nerve of the tooth which is housed in the pulp chamber and in the canal within the root. Modem techniques have made this tooth saving procedure much more acceptable than in the past.
Why is Root Canal Necessary?
Tooth Decay: There are many reasons that root canals may be needed. When tooth decay begins, it penetrates the outer layer of enamel and creates a cavity.
Infections: In addition to pain, other symptoms include swelling, tenderness, or pain when chewing. Infection may affect underlying bone, in which case the affected area must be treated with antibiotics and may need time to drain before the root canal therapy can proceed.
Trauma: Sometimes trauma (injury) to the tooth will injure the nerve. Such injury can be caused by an automobile accident, a blow to the mouth, or when a tooth cracks or breaks spontaneously while eating.
What Can I Expect During a Root Canal?
The dentist will thoroughly examine the tooth that is causing problems and will test it in various ways (including X-ray examination) to determine whether or not the pulp tissue is diseased. When the decision for root canal therapy has been made, the dentist will gain access to the pulp chamber of the tooth, much like filling a cavity. The diseased pulp will be removed while leaving the canal intact.
The canal will be flushed out with special solutions before a medication is placed within. A temporary crown or restoration will then be placed on the tooth, so the patient will not feel uncomfortable between dental visits. Later, usually during another appointment, the root will be permanently filled with a material that will hopefully keep the canal intact for a long period of time. A permanent restoration (crown) is then prepared and applied to the tooth.
Is Root Canal Therapy Painful?
The inside of the tooth is very sensitive, so the dentist will administer medication to make sure that the area is desensitized and you will not feel uncomfortable. You should communicate any uncomfortable feeling to your dentist throughout the procedure so that the desired level of pain control can be maintained.
The procedure involves many steps and it often takes one to three dental visits to complete. Occasionally, a waiting period between visits is necessary to allow infection to clear up. It is very important to follow all the dentist’s instructions precisely to avoid complications.