Root canal treatment, often simply called a “root canal,” is a standard dental procedure that many people will experience in their lifetime. It can sound daunting, but it’s a routine treatment that dentists use to save and repair a tooth that is badly decayed or infected. Understanding the basics of the process can help demystify it and alleviate any concerns you may have. Let’s explore what root canal treatment involves, why it’s necessary, and what you can expect during and after the procedure.

Understanding Root Canal Treatment

A root canal is a treatment to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or becomes infected. The term “root canal” comes from cleaning the canals inside the tooth’s root. Decades ago, root canal treatments were often painful. However, with dental advances and local anesthetics, most people have little if any pain with a root canal today. It’s probably more uncomfortable living with a decayed tooth than having the procedure.

The Need for Root Canal Treatment

The outermost layer of the tooth is the enamel, followed by dentin, and then a soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue, which help grow the root of your tooth during its development. A fully developed tooth can survive without the pulp because the tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it.

Root canal treatment is necessary when the pulp, the soft tissue inside the root canal, becomes inflamed or infected. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, faulty crowns, or a crack or chip in the tooth. Additionally, trauma to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if there are no visible cracks or chips. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.

The Procedure of Root Canal Treatment

Diagnosis and X-ray

If a root canal is needed, the dentist will first take X-rays to assess the extent of the tooth damage and then administer local anesthesia to numb the area.

Removing the Infected Pulp

The dentist will place a protective sheet called a “dental dam” over the area to isolate the tooth and keep it clean and free of saliva during the procedure. An opening in the crown of the tooth is made to access the pulp chamber. Using special tools, the infected or inflamed pulp is removed, and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected to prevent further infection.

Filling the Root Canal

Once the tooth is cleaned, the root canal is filled with a biocompatible material, usually a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. The gutta-percha is placed with an adhesive cement to ensure complete sealing of the root canals. In most cases, a temporary filling will be used to close the opening until a permanent filling or crown is placed.

Restoring the Tooth

After the root canal treatment, the tooth needs to be restored to look, feel, and work as much like a natural tooth as possible. This might involve a filling or a crown, depending on how much of the tooth remains. This final step is crucial to protect and restore the tooth to full function.

Aftercare and Recovery

After a root canal treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive for the first few days due to natural tissue inflammation, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. This discomfort can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain medications. Most people can return to their normal activities the next day.

Success Rate and Longevity

Root canal treatments have a very high success rate. Many root canal-treated teeth last a lifetime. Also, because the final step of the root canal procedure is the placement of a crown or filling, the tooth will not look any different than the others.

The Root of It All

Root canal treatment is a safe and effective procedure used to save teeth and prevent further oral health issues. With modern techniques and anesthetics, getting a root canal is now no more uncomfortable than having a filling. If your dentist recommends a root canal treatment, understand that it is a routine procedure that can alleviate pain and restore your oral health. By taking care of your restored tooth with proper brushing, flossing, and regular check-ups, you can ensure its longevity and enjoy a healthy smile for years to come.

Root canal treatment is among the full range of top-notch dental services provided by Dague Dental Solutions in Davenport, IA. Call us today at (563) 386-9770 or reach us through the contact form on our website and we’ll get back with you.