The term root canal often strikes fear in the hearts of dental patients. If you have never had a root canal, you probably don’t know much about it other than the fact that it sounds quite unpleasant. Ideally, we should all take good care of our oral health so that a root canal doesn’t become necessary. If you do need a root canal, though, don’t worry. It really isn’t as bad as all the hype. Read on to learn what exactly is involved in root canal treatment.
Why Do I Need a Root Canal?
Tooth decay can eventually cause damage to the pulp of the tooth if it goes on for too long. The pulp is the tissue in the center of the tooth. If the pulp of your tooth has been permanently damaged, or is nearing that state, your dentist may recommend root canal treatment. The purpose of a root canal is to remove the damaged pulp from the tooth and replace it with a filling material. Basically, a root canal is like getting a filling inside your tooth. A root canal can prevent a damaged tooth from getting infected or be used to treat an ongoing infection.
What Happens During a Root Canal?
The first step in a root canal is to numb your mouth so that you don’t feel pain during the procedure. The dentist will apply a numbing gel to your gums. After that gel has taken effect and your gums are numb, the dentist will inject a local anesthetic, like Novocain. This anesthetic will make your teeth, gums, tongue, and the skin around your mouth completely numb. The dentist might also offer you nitrous oxide (also known as laughing gas) to help you relax during the procedure.
Next, the dentist will prepare the tooth that will be worked on. He may use a small, protective rubber sheet on a metal frame to separate the tooth that is being treated from the other teeth. This also helps to keep liquids and other materials from getting into your mouth or throat.
Once the mouth and tooth are prepared, the dentist will remove the pulp from the tooth using a drill and other tools. After the pulp has been removed, the dentist will fill inside the tooth with medication and filling material.
In many cases, you will also need a crown on the tooth after the root canal. Without the pulp in the center of the tooth, the tooth becomes more fragile. Covering the tooth with a crown strengthens it. If you require a crown, the dentist will make an impression of your tooth. The impression is used to make a crown that fits your tooth perfectly. Until the permanent crown is ready, you will be fitted with a temporary crown in the meantime.
What Should I Expect After a Root Canal?
Your mouth and lips will be numb for a few hours after a root canal. You may experience some pain. You can take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medication, like Advil or Aleve, for the pain. If the tooth is infected, your dentist may require you to take an antibiotic before you undergo a root canal. You may also need to take antibiotics before dental treatment if you have certain heart conditions.
If you are due for a dental checkup or if you require more extensive treatment, like a root canal, contact the office of Dr. TJ Bolt. We provide comprehensive dental care in a quiet, relaxing environment. Call Dr. Bolt’s office to schedule an appointment today.