If you experience severe discomfort that radiates through your jaw, you may need to have a root canal procedure. There are a lot of myths surrounding root canal treatment that can make patients feel apprehensive about the procedure. To help answer your questions and clear up any misinformation, here is everything you need to know about a root canal procedure.
When Do I Need a Root Canal?
Inside your tooth is a soft tissue called pulp that contains nerves, blood vessels, connective tissue, and nutrients. You need your pulp as your teeth grow in. When the pulp becomes infected, it needs to be removed with a root canal treatment to prevent further damage to the tooth. In some cases, a root canal prevents the need for an extraction and saves your natural tooth.
Several symptoms may indicate that you need a root canal procedure:
- Intense discomfort while chewing or biting
- Swelling of the gums
- Small, white pimples around the gums
- Persistent sensitivity to hot and cold food and beverages
- Chipped, cracked, or broken teeth
- Visible decay
- Darkened gums
If left untreated, the infected or inflamed pulp can become an abscess. An abscess can damage your tooth and your jawbone, resulting in tooth loss.
What Is a Root Canal?
A root canal procedure is an endodontic treatment used to repair an infected tooth.
Endodontic refers to treatments performed inside the tooth.
During root canal therapy, the infected pulp, damaged nerves, and blood vessels are removed.
This saves the tooth and restores function.
Step-by-Step Root Canal Procedure
Depending on the extent of the infection and damage to the tooth, a root canal procedure can be completed in one or two sessions.
- At your initial consultation, your dentist examines your damaged tooth and takes x-rays to assess the infection and guide the distance the tools need to travel when cleaning the root canal.
- After applying a protective barrier to keep the area dry, your dentist makes a small opening in the crown of the tooth.
- A fine file is then inserted into the tooth to clean out the infected pulp from the pulp chamber. The dentist consults the x-rays to ensure the tools do not extend beyond the base of the root.
- After cleaning, the interior of the chamber is shaped and filled with a biocompatible substance called Gutta Percha. This seals the root canal to prevent further infection and stabilises the tooth. Your dentist may then place a temporary filling to protect your tooth.
- After the temporary filling is removed, the dentist restores your tooth by placing a dental crown over the top of the tooth. Sometimes a dental filling may be sufficient to restore the integrity and appearance of your tooth.
Following your root canal procedure, it is important to carefully follow your dentist’s aftercare instructions to minimise discomfort and aid the healing process.
Root canal treatment is a common and relatively simple dental procedure. If you suspect that you may need root canal therapy, contact Dapto Dentists on (02) 4044 5520 to speak with our experienced staff and let us help restore your smile.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.