A root canal is a dental treatment that involves removing the pulp and nerves inside of a tooth and then cleaning and preparing the tooth for restoration with a crown or filling. This procedure is necessary when the nerve of a tooth becomes infected. When left untreated, the infection will spread to the jaw bone and eventually lead to the loss of the entire tooth.
Step One: The Tooth Is Numbed
Your dentist will numb your tooth to ensure you don’t feel anything during your root canal procedure. If you are having multiple procedures done at the same time, your dentist may use one anesthesia to numb your mouth, so you don’t have a painful recovery time from multiple shots in your jaw. However, if you are only having a cavity filled or a dental crown placed, your dentist may only have one shot of anesthetic to give, and that shot will be right in the affected tooth itself. Since you will already have been numbed to that area, you won’t feel any additional discomfort.
Step Two: The Dentist Removes the Problem Area
After the tooth has been numbed, the dentist will drill into the tooth and remove all of the infected material. To do this, they will use a handpiece with a thin metal rod known as a file or endodontic tip. This tool will remove all infection from the pulp and send it to the catch basin. Occasionally, the dentist may decide to use an ultrasonic instrument known as a handpiece. This device accelerates the process of removing damaged tissue through the use of vibrations and high-frequency energy waves. Once the tooth is cleaned, your dentist will prepare it for the final step of the root canal process.
If the nerves in your tooth have been inflamed or infected, it is likely that you will experience some discomfort as the area heals. Your dentist may prescribe pain medication for you to take after the procedure to help reduce the pain. It is also a good idea to avoid chewing on the affected side of the mouth until it is healed. Otherwise, your filling may come loose or fall out. If your tooth feels sensitive after treatment, avoid hot or cold foods and beverages until the sensitivity subsides.
If your dentist recommends placing a dental crown on your treated tooth before the area is healed, it is imperative that you heed their advice. This will protect the area from additional damage and reduce the risk of needing retreatment in the future.
Step Three: Cleans and Prepares the Tooth
After your dentist cleans and prepares your tooth, he will place a temporary filling over it. The temporary filling will protect your tooth from bacteria, saliva, and food while the permanent restoration is fabricated to your custom specifications. Temporary restorations can last three to six months before needing to be replaced.
Once your custom crown or bridge is ready, you will return to the dental office to have it placed. Your dentist will fit your new crown or bridge over the tooth using strong cement to secure the restoration in place.
You will receive specific care instructions to follow once the restoration is placed, so it is important to follow your dentist’s advice closely. You should gently floss your teeth at least once a day to help remove plaque from the margins of the restoration where it meets the gums. You should also brush with a soft-bristled toothbrush twice a day to remove debris and stimulate circulation in the gum tissue. Avoiding foods that are hard to bite into can help prolong the life of a partial denture or a bonded filling. Additionally, you should maintain regular six-month cleanings and exams with your dentist to ensure that your new restoration is functioning properly and to check for indications of gum disease or tooth decay.
If you want to learn more about a root canal, visit the Covington Signature Dentistry office at 27121 174th Place SE, Suite 202, Covington, WA 98042, or call (253) 638-9955 to schedule an appointment.