You’ve no doubt either known someone personally that has had a root canal performed or simply just watched amusing YouTube videos of people after the procedure – but what exactly happens during one? Let’s go over the basics and hopefully calm any nerves you may have regarding root canals!
What Is A Root Canal And Why Is It Necessary?
A root canal is a procedure done in order to save a diseased tooth. When the pulp deep inside a tooth becomes infected, usually due to an injury or a severely untreated cavity, the bacteria can spread to the tooth’s roots, nerve, and beyond. When the infection spreads past the roots of the tooth, an abscess (a puss filled pocket) begins to form.
In order to save the tooth, the nerve and pulp are removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed. The nerve is located inside a natural cavity in the middle of the tooth, along with the pulp chamber. This area is what is known as the root canal.
If you’re concerned about losing your nerve (in more ways than one) – don’t be! The nerve merely provides the sensation of hot or cold; it’s removal will not affect the normal functioning of your tooth.
What Exactly Happens During A Root Canal?
With the help of anesthesia and access to the best modern technology we’re capable of, root canal treatment is typically no more painful than a tooth filling. With the question of pain out of the way, let’s focus on the actual procedure!
Normally a root canal is done within two office visits and is over after about five steps. First, a needle (don’t panic, this will only feel like a pinch) is used to administer local anesthesia to numb the tooth. A small sheet of rubber, or a dental dam, is then placed near the tooth to help isolate it and keep it dry.
Next, your dentist will use a small drill to access the inside of the tooth. Once inside, they will then use a file to remove any diseased pulp.
After the chamber is cleaned thoroughly, a temporary filling will be used while you wait for your permanent crown. Within a few weeks you will return to your dentist and finish your treatment by having the crown (or similar structure) placed on the top of your tooth.
Root canals are typically highly successful and many teeth that are fixed with one can last a lifetime. If you have any thoughts on root canals (or any root canal survivor stories) please leave a comment!