Caring for your teeth is relatively easy to do. You brush your teeth twice a day, floss once, and see your dentist for a cleaning and checkup every few months. But sometimes, despite your best efforts, problems can arise. These issues require specialized dental procedures to correct, root canal therapy being one of them.
If you're like most people, the thought of root canal treatment is enough to make your teeth hurt. But there is a lot of misinformation about how this procedure works and what it involves. This article explores a few things you might need to know about root canal treatment.
What Does Root Canal Treatment Mean?
Root canal treatment, also called root canal therapy or endodontic therapy, is a procedure used to save a tooth that has been damaged or is infected. The dentist removes the damaged or infected tissue inside the tooth before cleaning and disinfecting it. They will then fill and seal the tooth.
Root canal treatment is often required if the pulp gets damaged or infected. This can happen as a result of decay, deep fillings, trauma to the tooth, or cracks and chips in the tooth. If the pulp is damaged or infected, it can cause pain, sensitivity to temperature changes, and swelling.
Once the pulp or nerve becomes damaged or diseased, it needs to be removed to prevent further damage to the tooth. Root canal treatment is often the best way to save a tooth that would otherwise be lost. The procedure has a high success rate, and the effects can last up to ten years with proper care.
What Happens During Root Canal Treatment?
Root canal treatment is usually performed by a dentist or an endodontist (a root canal specialist). The procedure is usually done in one or two appointments, depending on the severity of the damage or infection.
During the first appointment, the dentist will take X-rays of your tooth to determine the extent of the damage. They'll then numb the tissue near the tooth and place a rubber dam (a small latex sheet) in your mouth to isolate the tooth.
Next, the dentist will make an opening in your tooth so that they can access the pulp. They will then use special instruments to remove the damaged or infected pulp inside your tooth. Afterward, they will clean and disinfect the inside of your tooth. In some cases, they may also place medication inside your tooth to help fight infection.
If the damage is extensive, your dentist may place a temporary filling in your tooth and schedule another appointment to complete the root canal treatment. Otherwise, they will fill and seal the root canal during the same appointment.
After root canal treatment, your tooth may be slightly sensitive, but this usually goes away within a few days. Your dentist will likely place a crown (a type of dental restoration) on your tooth to protect it from future damage.