Awareness of what to expect regarding your root canal can help provide peace of mind during the procedure.
My dentist says I need a root canal. What should I expect?
When a tooth becomes infected, dentists have a limited number of ways to prevent the problem from spreading to other teeth. While some patients may want to remove the dying tooth entirely and replace it with an implant, many are not willing to go through the complex process that installing an implant entails. Instead, they choose root canals, which remove the decaying part of the tooth while preserving its structure. Root canals are a safe and relatively painless form of preventative dental care, but you should still know what to expect before getting one. Common parts of this procedure include:
At the beginning of a root canal treatment, your dentist will use local anesthesia to numb the tooth and surrounding area, making the procedure painless. Depending on how bad the infection is and how inflamed the flesh inside your tooth has become, the numbing process takes different amounts of time for different patients. Your dentist will make sure that you are completely numb before he or she begins the root canal itself.
Once the dentist is sure that you will not experience any pain, he or she will use a drill to remove the infected tooth’s top layer. Your dentist will then use specialized instruments to dig the unhealthy flesh out of the tooth, along with any nerves that are connected to it. Without this flesh, you will not be able to feel pain in the tooth even after the anesthetic wears off. Your dentist will irrigate the chamber inside the tooth to wash away any remaining debris and then apply an antiseptic to protect against residual bacteria.
Applying the Fillings
Your dentist will expand and shape the canal inside the tooth to make room for fillers, washing it out again to ensure that no debris is preserved inside. He or she will then apply the filler material, which is usually a thermoplastic substance called gutta-percha, along with a sealer. After this, your dentist will seal the entrance to the tooth; depending on how badly the infection compromised the tooth’s structure, he or she may first have to install a plastic or metal post to fortify it. Once properly sealed, the tooth will not be vulnerable to further infection, and should be strong enough for you to continue chewing food with it.
After the root canal is complete, you should wait until the anesthetic has worn off completely before you start to eat again. Your dentist may instruct you to take antibiotics to prevent additional infections, and will likely want to put in a crown or other permanent restoration at a later appointment.
Arkansas Family Dentistry offers root canals, crown implants, and countless other preventative and cosmetic options. For more information on Little Rock dental care, contact us about preventative dental care by calling (501)-683-8886 today.