If you go to your dentist for tooth pain, swelling, or a cracked or broken tooth, they will do an exam, take x-rays, and may tell you that you need a root canal. Root canals, also called endodontic treatment are one of the most feared procedures in dentistry, but the truth is, they aren’t bad at all, and the long-term benefits are certainly worth the procedure. However, it’s okay to have questions and concerns, which is why our dentist in Fuquay-Varina is providing a step-by-step look at what to expect during a root canal and what you need to know.
What Is a Root Canal?
First, let’s look at the construction of a tooth so you know how everything works together and where the elements of a tooth are located.
On the outside of the tooth is the hard enamel coating. Under that is dentin, another hard layer that protects the internal workings of the tooth. Within the center of the tooth is the pulp chamber which contains blood vessels, nerves, and tissue. During a root canal, the pulp is cleaned out of the inside of the tooth, removing the nerve and tissues, and the tooth is sealed to prevent infection and further decay. Often, a crown is placed over the tooth to protect, strengthen, and restore functionality.
Why Are Root Canals Performed?
A dentist will perform a root canal in order to save and restore a tooth that has severely decayed, is broken, or has infection or an abscess within the root system. Rather than extracting the tooth which can lead to surrounding teeth shifting, problems with eating and chewing, and even bone loss in the jaw, a root canal saves much of the external structure of the tooth and providing an improved outcome for the patient.
Performing an Endodontic Treatment
If you need an endodontic treatment, the procedure itself is fairly straight forward. Your dentist will provide an exam and take x-rays to see the extent of decay, if there is infection, and the overall structure of the tooth. They may prescribe a round of antibiotics prior to performing the procedure.
Before beginning the procedure, your dentist will administer a local anesthetic to make sure you’re good and numb. Then, once it’s time to start, they will place a rubber dental dam around the area to keep the tooth clean and dry.
A hole is drilled into the tooth to provide access, and using precise tools, the pulp, along with the nerve and tissue, is completely removed from the inside of the tooth. Any decay and debris is also cleaned out, and the interior is “scrubbed” to ensure it’s completely clean.
Once the canal is cleaned, the space is filled with a paste and rubber compound and a filling is placed into the access hold in the tooth. Depending on the extent of the removal of the tooth, your dentist may recommend a permanent dental crown to be placed.
Tips for Your Root Canal
The procedure itself lasts around 30 minutes for a simple root canal, but can take up to 90 minutes for more in-depth procedures. You can bring in your phone and listen to music, a podcast, or an audiobook to pass the time and help reduce any anxiety you may be experiencing.
After your root canal, you may experience soreness for a few days that can be managed with ibuprofen (Advil) or naproxen (Aleve) and you can generally go back to usual activities the next day or even the same day. The one caveat is to avoid chewing and biting on the tooth because there may still be some tenderness. Your dentist will provide you with a personal care plan for moving forward after your procedure.
However, if you experience the following symptoms, you want to call your dentist immediately:
- Signs of infection
- Rash or other allergic reactions
- Uneven bite
- Excessive pain
Schedule An Appointment with Our Fuquay-Varina Dentist Today
If you have tooth pain or a tooth that is broken or decayed, don’t wait for it to get worse. Our family dentist in Fuquay-Varina is here to provide you with the right treatment for your health in a comfortable, welcoming environment. To learn more, call us at 919-552-2431 or schedule an appointment today.