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What Is a Root Canal: Causes, Process and Recovery

root-canalA root canal is a dental procedure used to treat a decaying or infected tooth.

Root canals are very successful, yet many people are scared of option for root canals as they are believed to be very painful. However, thanks to advances in dentistry and the invention of sedation, it is possible to undergo the procedure with little to no pain.

Root canals are the preferred way to save infected teeth, and at times they are the only option left.

Let’s find out more about root canals:

What is a Root Canal?

At the center of every tooth, there’s a soft cavity where several nerves and pulp are found. This pulpy area can catch an infection, due to many reasons, and can spread to the tooth and adjoining areas.

This infection not only causes a toothache, but can destroy your teeth, making it painful to chew, and even bite.

A root canal is a procedure that involves cleaning the infected tooth to get rid of the infection and prevent further damage. It is part of restorative dentistry, as it is used to restore a damaged tooth or several teeth.

Causes of a Root Canal

The soft tissues and the pulpy area behind a tooth are prone to infection if a person has a decayed tooth or any kind of gum disease.

This area is beneath the enamel where blood vessels, nerves, and root canals join. In case of a decaying tooth, the pulp chamber gets inflamed and triggers immense pain in the tooth.

When this happens, it is recommended to get a root canal because the pain can spread to the surrounding areas too.

When You Need a Root Canal

Dr. James Huang explains that there are several signs and symptoms that indicate the need for a root canal. These include:

  • Sharp pain while applying pressure or chewing.
  • Sensitivity issues while drinking cold or hot drinks.
  • Discoloration (affected tooth gets darker in color).
  • Pain in the gums and swelling around the area.
  • Blemished gums.

Check out All-In-One Dental Innovations for more details.

The Root Canal Process

The root canal process involves eliminating the infection and the affected area around the tooth.

The process is performed by an endodontist or a dentist. If there is an infection, your dentist will first remove the infection from the area and then fill it with a material to sustain the tooth.

If the infection is severe, your dentist might use a drill to reach deep into the affected area. However, don’t be afraid – the dentist typically uses anesthesia when they have to drill, preventing you from feeling any pain when undergoing this part of the root canal.

Here’s how the process is carried out:

  • Root canals are not performed in a single visit. There are some things that the dentist needs to be sure of before completing the procedure.
  • The dentist will first take x-rays to understand the severity of the infection. The x-rays also show the shape and size of the infected tooth, while giving your dentist insights into how damaged the bone tissues are.

Once the dentist knows the complexity, your treatment will begin:

  • Your dental area is numbed using anesthesia so that you don’t experience any sort of pain or irritation during the process. The procedure isn’t started until the entire affected area is completely numb. In case of a severe infection, it may take some time.
  • To avoid saliva from dripping onto the area, a dental dam is placed in your mouth so that the mouth remains dry during the procedure.
  • A hole may be drilled into the tooth to reach beneath the enamel.
  • The bacteria responsible for the infection and pain is then removed using a special tool. Your dentist may scrape off the area for several minutes until the infection is completely removed. During the process, your dentist will use tools to suck and remove the debris accumulating in the mouth to keep it clean.
  • An antiseptic may then be applied to keep infection away in the future.
  • Since the walls of the root canals are exposed after the treatment, the walls of the canals are covered using a thermoplastic material for filling. The filling is shaped and then sealers are added after getting them cleaned.
  • The hole from drilling is then filled. You’ll most likely be prescribed an antibiotic to reduce any pain, which may occur for at least a day or two.

Most dentists will also suggest placing a crown on the tooth in order to prevent the infection from returning says Dr. Kaltio from the Kaltio Dental Office.

Recovery Time

It only takes 24 hours for you to resume your regular activities. However, it is wise not to chew anything until a permanent crown is placed over the processed tooth.

Ask Our Dentists About the Root Canal Process

Make sure to visit an experienced dentist if you need a root canal treatment. Call us today at (972) 731-9100 to get an appointment. We at Signature Dental perform all dental procedures, including root canals.

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