What Happens During a Root Canal?
According to the American Association of Endodontists, more than 15 million root canals are performed every year to remove infected pulp tissue from inside of the tooth and maintain its overall health. When a patient is experiencing severe pain due to infection or inflammation in the pulp, or the tissue inside the tooth, a root canal procedure remains the most effective way to save the tooth and get the patient out of pain. Very rarely there are patients that are not good candidates for the procedure. The dentist will review your medical and dental history to ensure you’re a good candidate for a root canal.
Although root canals are safe procedures and are important for preventing the infection from spreading to the gums or other teeth, they also tend to make patients nervous. In the old days of dentistry there were many problems associated with root canals, one being pain, so the fear came from that. However the techniques and knowledge have drastically improved and patients are surprised how easy they are now. Knowing what to expect if you have to come in for a root canal can help you relax while you’re in the dentist’s chair.
Before the Root Canal
Prior to the start of the procedure, our team will use x-ray diagnostics to get a clear picture of the tooth. The best standard of care now is a 3D x ray especially on more difficult teeth such as molars. 3D x rays show so much more detail to enhance the treatment. Then, a local anesthetic will be used to numb the tooth and surrounding area. A small protective sheet called a dental dam is then placed over the tooth to protect it and keep it clean throughout the procedure.
During the Root Canal
At the start of the root canal, our team will create a small opening in the tooth in order to access the nerve tissue in the center of the tooth. We will then use very small instruments to carefully clean out the infected pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals. During the process, a cleansing solution called sodium hypochlorite is used to flush the debris away. We will also prepare the inside of the tooth to be filled with a safe, biocompatible material.
After the inside of the roots are shaped and cleaned, the space inside the tooth is filled with the material. We will also typically use an adhesive cement while placing the material to ensure that the root canals are completely sealed to prevent any future issues. Depending on the level of infection, the dentist may choose to medicate the inside of the tooth first before putting in the filling.
In many cases, a temporary filling is used to seal the access point of the tooth once it has been fully cleared and cleaned. This will keep it free from saliva and contaminants for about 30 days.
After the Root Canal
During the final root canal visit, our team will remove the temporary filling and replace it with a crown to fully seal and protect the tooth or a filling depending on the situation and the type of tooth. After the procedure, the restored tooth will have full functionality. Because the temporary filling material only protects the root canal for about 30 days, it is important to proceed with the final treatment as soon as possible.
Contact Us for An Appointment Today
Although many perceive root canals to be scary or painful, this procedure has evolved and can now usually be done in just a few appointments with minimal pain and discomfort to the patient. If you’re experiencing pain while eating or other symptoms that may indicate an infected tooth, Dr. McCormick and our team are highly experienced in this procedure and can evaluate whether a root canal is the best option to restore your smile. Reach out to us today to learn more about root canal treatment in Santa Rosa.