When the dentist mentions a root canal, the patient usually feels a twinge of fear. However, the procedure is very simple, and understanding how it is performed will usually help to reduce the anxiety. A root canal can help to save your tooth as well as the surrounding gums. Let’s look at the procedure to find out just what you can expect.
The first step in the process of a root canal is to take x-rays that allow the dentist to see the shape of the tooth underneath the gum line. You will be given a local anesthetic to make you more comfortable, even though the nerves in the tooth are most likely already dead. The tooth will have to be completely dry so it will be cleaned of all saliva and possible debris, then a dental dam will be put in place to make sure it stays clean.
Removing the Nerves and Pulp
A hole will be drilled in the top of the tooth so files can be used to remove all the pulp inside, as well as the nerve. If there is any debris in the area, including that caused by drilling the hole, it will be removed through a flushing process. A root canal requires removing all matter inside the tooth.
Filling the Tooth
If the root canal will be filled in the same appointment, a permanent filling will be placed; however, most root canals are completed in two appointments. If it will be done in two stages, a temporary filling will be placed so that no contaminants enter the tooth until the next appointment. If there is infection present, antibiotics will be used in the drilled hole until the next appointment when you will get a permanent filling.
Aftercare for a Root Canal
After your root canal, it is important to care for it properly. You will most likely encounter slight sensitivity, especially if you were experiencing it before the root canal. There will also be some swelling for the first few days. Warm compresses and over-the-counter medications like acetaminophen or ibuprofen can be used to lessen the discomfort. You should regularly brush, floss and use mouthwash to keep the area around the root canal clean. Be sure to minimize your chewing on the side of the root canal until you are comfortable again.
Pearland Family Dental is experienced in root canal procedures. A root canal can help save your tooth, minimize the risk of the infection spreading to other teeth or your gums. Be sure to call us as soon as you feel discomfort so we can get started on a treatment plan to take care of your root canal right away.