The most feared form of dental surgery is the notorious "root canal". Despite being so widely feared, many people, even those who have had one performed, have no idea what is involved. This leads to people who need to have one being terrified prior to surgery, mostly because they expect the worst. Here is a description of the modern root canal procedure.
The term "root canal" is a common term for a dental procedure to treat rotting teeth. The procedure has a more formal title: endodontic therapy. Root canals are used to treat teeth with infected pulp.
The pulp of a tooth is the tissue consisting of nerve endings and blood vessels which is inside the pulp-chamber of the tooth. The pulp can become infected and inflamed due to cavities or cracked teeth.
During a root canal, the dentist first drills into the hollow part of the tooth (pulp-chamber) and removes the infected tissue. This is called a "pulpectomy".
The dentist will then remove the nerve from the root canal. This is done by drilling it out.
After removing the nerve the dentist cleans the chamber, by irrigating it, and filing it out. Then it is filled with a special “plastic” which seals the roots. The doctor will also create room for a titanium post if needed. You should not wait long after a rot canal to have your permanent crown placed. The tooth is in a weakened state and needs the protection of the crown. If you wait too long the tooth could crack and have to be extracted.
Root Canals are thought to be agonizingly painful but the procedure itself should be painless if performed properly. The dentist will use a local anesthetic which will be enough to control pain in most cases. In other, less-common cases there may be other problems, like abscesses, which hinder the application of the anesthetic. This can usually be prevented if a series of antibiotics is taken prior to the treatment. Some patients have the most discomfort after the root canal (usually the first 24 hours) as the body destroys the remaining infection that was “stirred up” by the root canal.
Posted in: General and Family Dentistry