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Teeth can become infected for a number of reasons, including impaction and poor dental hygiene. When a tooth becomes infected, it is usually related to the nerves in the root of the tooth; this is a common reason that we develop toothaches. Infected nerves will need to be removed because, if they are left untreated, they can turn into an abscess, which is a much more serious problem that can cause bone loss in the jaw.
Endodontics is a dental specialty that deals with the nerves of the teeth. Root canals involve the removal of the pulp – that is, the nerve tissue and associated blood vessels – in the center of an infected tooth. This area is known as the canals of a tooth, hence the procedure’s name.
How root canals are performed
Root canals are usually a one-visit procedure and can be performed by a general dentist or an endodontist.
First, the area around the tooth is numbed with a local anesthetic injected into the gum tissue. The dentist will test to ensure that you are numb, then drill down into the top of the infected tooth to create an opening into the canals.
Once an opening has been made, the dentist will carefully remove the infected tissue using files and by carefully flushing the filed pulp from the root and suctioning away. This process takes a fairly significant amount of time, as your dentist wants to make absolutely sure that there is no remaining infection. They will be especially careful in the lower, narrower ends of the canals.
After the infection has been removed, the space left is filled with a special sealant called gutta-percha, a rubbery paste designed to restabilize the hollow tooth. They may also apply a topical antibiotic to prevent reinfection. Finally, the hole created will be carefully filled with temporary material. This prevents the canals from being damaged by saliva.
It is highly recommended that a tooth that has undergone a root canal be fitted with a crown. This will not only improve the appearance of the tooth, but will also make it stronger overall, making it much more likely that the root canal is successful.
Root canals don’t have to be frightening
“Root canal” has become a scary term for dental patients to hear; many imagine an extremely painful, drawn-out procedure that will lead to months of aching. Luckily, advances in dental technology have made the process much less intimidating.
Local anesthetics and proper pain medication allow the procedure to be performed with little to no pain in most cases. There may be some soreness following the procedure, but this is normal and subsides. Over-the-counter painkillers are usually enough to relieve any pain you feel afterward, though if you need it, your dentist may prescribe medication.
On top of this, the benefits of the procedure far outweigh the risks. Root canals are designed to relieve you from the pain that is caused by a serious infection. Once the procedure is performed and you’ve had a short time to recover, you’ll be able to enjoy all the foods you love without any pain from the heat, cold, or biting too hard. Your jaw will be healthier and you’ll avoid more serious and intense pain later on.
If you are experiencing pain, don’t let fear stop you from getting the help that you need. Consult Pearly Smile Dental Studio today to see if a root canal is the right treatment option for you.