For some people, “root canal” can be a scary term, but for many patients, it is necessary to get this treatment done. Understanding the process can help you to be more prepared for your appointment and know exactly what to expect!
In short, a root canal is a dental treatment in which an infection is removed from the inside of a tooth or from the bone around the tooth. This procedure is called endodontic therapy but is usually referred to as a root canal treatment.
A root canal is the internal hollow section of a tooth that holds blood vessels, nerve tissue as well as other cells. Many people associate this treatment with a tremendous amount of pain although that is not the case. More often than not, the goal of this treatment is to help eliminate the pain that a patient is already experiencing!
First, local anesthesia is given to the patient so that the dentist can assess the internal aspect of the tooth through a small hole made on the surface of the tooth. This allows access to the root canals and subsequent removal of the diseased and dead tissue.
The second step consists of shaping and decontaminating the hollow area through the use of tiny files as well as irrigation solutions. After it is adequately cleaned, the tooth is filled with a special sealing material which protects the canals from re-infection. It is important to note that after a root canal treatment, your tooth will be essentially “dead” – in the sense that all vitality of the tooth has been removed.
The final step is to place a crown or filling to provide protection and to ensure the tooth is not fragile. Once this last step is complete, the patient can use the tooth as they did before and bite and chew as they normally would.
Root canal treatment itself is not painful and any discomfort that you feel is actually due to the infection which this treatment will remove. The anesthesia will help numb the tooth as well as the surrounding area, so that the dentist can complete the procedure without causing the patient discomfort.