If you have a severely damaged, decayed, or infected tooth, one treatment that your dentist may recommend is a root canal treatment. Root canals are one treatment that aims to repair and save your tooth rather than extract it.
Root canals are needed when the pulp (the innermost layer of your tooth containing the blood vessels and nerves) becomes infected. Infections can occur for several reasons including deep cavities, a cracked or fractured tooth, or an injury to the tooth. If left untreated, a pulp infection can spread to the tissues surrounding the tooth, causing pain and swelling, and potentially even putting you at risk of losing the tooth completely.
Pain while chewing/ biting down, or eating/drinking hot and cold foods and drinks indicate that your tooth might be infected.
How are root canals done?
Root canals typically take 1-2 office visits to complete. You will feel little to no pain because your dentist will use local anesthesia to numb the area and keep you comfortable throughout the procedure.
Before the procedure, your dentist will take x-rays to examine the area and will numb the area. The dentist may also place a rubber shield around the tooth to protect the tooth from any surrounding saliva and bacteria.
During the procedure, your dentist will create an opening at the top of your tooth and remove the nerve from inside of the tooth and inside of the root (known as the root canal). They will then clean out the inside of the tooth and the canals and place a germ-killing medicine inside. Finally, your dentist will fill the canals with a rubber-like material to seal the canals against future infections and will place a temporary filling into the opening at the top of your tooth. Depending on your specific case, the dentist will have you come back to check on the root canal treated tooth and place a permanent filling or crown on the tooth.
After the treatment, you may experience some sensitivity in the area surrounding the tooth. Your dentist may also prescribe antibiotics to treat any infection in the tooth and surrounding area.
With good oral hygiene such as brushing and flossing, your root canal treated tooth can last for a lifetime!