Dental Health

What is a Root Canal?

A root canal is a dental procedure that involves removing an infected or inflamed soft interior of the tooth, the pulp. In most cases, a general dentist or endodontist will perform a root canal Totowa while you are under local anesthesia. Read on to learn more about a root canal.

When would I need a root canal?

Your dentist may recommend a root canal when your pulp gets injured, inflamed, or infected. The pulp is the soft center of your tooth, made up of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues; they help the tooth grow. If the pulp gets infected, it should be removed to preserve the tooth’s structure. There are different causes of damaged pulp, including:

  • Severe decay due to an untreated cavity
  • A crack or chip in the tooth
  • Multiple dental procedures on one tooth
  • An injury to the tooth. Getting a hit in your mouth may result in a tooth. The pulp can still get damaged even if the injury does not crack the tooth.

If you have an infected or damaged pulp, you may experience pain and swelling in your tooth and a sensation of heat in your gums. Dental x-rays allow your dentist to examine the painful tooth and confirm the diagnosis. If your dentist thinks you need a root canal, they may refer you to an endodontist.

The root canal procedure

A root canal often takes place in a dental office. Once you arrive for your appointment, a technician will escort you to a treatment room, where you will get situated in a chair. They will then place a bib around your neck, so your clothes don’t get stained.

  • Anesthetic

Before the procedure, the dentist will apply numbing cream on the gum near the affected tooth before injecting a local anesthetic into your gums. You may feel a sudden sharp pinch or a burning sensation, but this fades away fast. The numbing medication prevents you from feeling pain during treatment, but you will remain awake during the procedure.

  • Pulp removal

Once your tooth is numb, your provider makes a small incision in the top of the tooth to expose the infected or damaged pulp. Using special tools called files, the dentist will remove the pulp and carefully clean out all the canals in your tooth. After removing all the pulp, the dentist coats the area with a topical antibiotic to treat the infection and prevent reinfection.

Once all the canals are clean and disinfected, the dentist fills and seals the tooth with a sealer paste and gutta-percha. Your dentist may also prescribe oral antibiotics.

  • Temporary filling

After cleaning, disinfecting, and sealing the canals, the dentist ends the procedure by filling the small opening on the tooth with a soft, temporary material.

Care after root canal

When the numbing medication wears off, your tooth and bump on gums will feel sore, and your gums may also swell. Most dentists recommend over-the-counter pain medications to treat these symptoms. You can resume your normal routine after the procedure, but you should avoid chewing with the damaged tooth until a crown is placed over the top.

For further questions about a root canal, consult your oral health professional at Dental Spa.

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