How Do Root Canals Work? An Instructional Guide
A root canal procedure is a dental treatment that is performed to save a severely damaged or infected tooth. It involves removing the infected pulp from inside the tooth, cleaning and disinfecting the area, and then filling it with a special material to prevent further infection.
Signs That You May Need a Root Canal
When it comes to dental issues, early detection is key. Knowing the signs that you may need a root canal can help you seek prompt treatment and potentially save your tooth. Here are some common indications that a root canal procedure may be necessary.
- Persistent pain: If you're experiencing severe and lingering tooth pain, especially when biting down or applying pressure, it could be a sign of an infection in the root canal.
- Sensitivity to hot and cold: Teeth sensitivity is normal to some extent, but if you find yourself unable to tolerate hot or cold foods/beverages due to intense discomfort, this could indicate nerve damage requiring a root canal.
- Gum swelling or tenderness: Inflamed gums around the affected tooth can occur as bacteria spread from the infected pulp into surrounding tissues.
- Discolored tooth: A darkened or discolored tooth can mean that the nerve inside has been damaged by decay or trauma.
- Prolonged sensitivity after dental procedures: If your tooth remains sensitive for an extended period following dental work, like fillings or crowns, it might signify underlying issues necessitating a root canal.
The Process of a Root Canal: Step-by-Step
The process of a root canal can seem daunting, but understanding the step-by-step procedure can help alleviate any anxieties you may have.
- First, your dentist will thoroughly numb the affected tooth and surrounding area with local anesthesia to ensure your comfort throughout the procedure. They will then place a rubber dam around the tooth to isolate it from saliva and keep it dry.
- Next, your dentist will create a small access hole in the tooth's crown using specialized instruments. This allows them to reach the infected or damaged pulp inside. The infected pulp is carefully removed using thin files that clean out and shape each root canal.
- Once all infected tissue is removed, your dentist will flush out the canals with an antimicrobial solution to eliminate bacteria. In some cases, medication may be placed within the canals to ensure complete disinfection.
- After cleaning and shaping the canals, they are filled with a biocompatible material called gutta-percha. This material seals off the roots and prevents reinfection.
- In order to restore strength and functionality to your treated tooth, a temporary filling or dental crown is typically placed over it until a permanent restoration can be made.
Understanding these steps involved in a root canal procedure can help ease any concerns you may have about undergoing this treatment option for saving an injured or infected tooth.
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