Root canal procedures have a reputation for being extremely painful, but the procedure itself is actually no more painful than having a filling placed. Every year, millions of teeth are treated and saved by root canal procedures, with the success rate being over 95%. Many teeth that have been fixed by root canal procedures go on to last a lifetime.
Whether you have been recommended to undergo a root canal or you are just curious, here is everything there is to know about root canal procedures.
What is a root canal?
A root canal is a treatment designed to repair and save a badly decayed or infected tooth. During root canal procedures, the nerve and pulp of the tooth are removed so that the inside can be cleaned and sealed. If a decayed or infected tooth were not to receive treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth will be at risk of further infection and a periapical tooth abscess may form.
What is a periapical tooth abscess?
A periapical tooth abscess is a pocket of pus that forms at the tip of an infected tooth’s root. A tooth abscess will not go away without treatment and you will run the risk of further infection. If the abscess ruptures and the abscess does not drain, the infection may spread to your jaw and other areas of your head and neck. You may even develop sepsis – a life-threatening infection that spreads throughout your body.
Signs and causes of tooth decay and infection
Signs of an infected or decayed tooth are:
- Lingering tooth sensitivity
- Sharp pain when eating
- Chipped/cracked teeth
- Swollen/painful gums
- Darkened gums
- Pimpled on the gums
A tooth and its nerve and pulp can become infected due to deep decay, large fillings and repeated procedures, a crack or chip in the tooth or because of trauma to the face.
Steps to root canal procedures
- An X-Ray will be taken to see the shape of the root canals and to determine if there are any signs of infection in the surrounding bone.
- Local anaesthesia will be used to numb the area near the tooth.
- A rubber dam will be placed around the tooth to keep the area dry.
- Then the drilling starts to allow access inside the tooth so that the pulp, bacteria and decayed nerve tissue can be removed from the tooth.
- The area is cleaned out, scraped and scrubbed using root canal files with water or sodium hypochlorite being sprayed to flush away the debris.
- The tooth is then sealed – some dentists will wait a week before sealing the tooth. In some cases, medication will be put inside the tooth before it can be sealed.
- A sealer paste and a rubber compound called gutta-percha will be placed into the root canal to fill the interior of the tooth. A filling will also be placed to close the access hole created at the beginning of treatment.
Root canal recovery
After root canal procedures, your mouth may be numb for a few hours – avoid eating until the numbness has ceased. The tooth may feel sensitive for a few days after too. The area will also be susceptible to complications if food were to be chewed regularly using the tooth – try to avoid the area as much as possible.
A tooth that has undergone a root canal will most likely need a crown, crown and post, or other restoration to protect it, ensure it will not break and to restore it to full function. The Carine Glades Dental Care team are experts in root canal procedures and the restoration of teeth, contact the team today on (08) 9448 3922 to book an appointment.