Most dentists will do whatever they can to save a patient’s natural teeth, and one of the best methods for saving a tooth that might otherwise be lost is with a root canal. This procedure is usually recommended when a tooth has become infected and the infection has spread to the pulp of the tooth. If the infection is not removed, the tooth would need to extracted. But thanks to the root canal procedure, most teeth – even those that are infected – can be saved.
Although the thought of a root canal may make many people cringe, the procedure itself can be performed with very little if any discomfort on the part of the patient. In fact, by the time a tooth requires a root canal, chances are the pain the patient endures before the procedure is exceedingly worse than any discomfort during or afterwards. And the best news of all – a root canal can usually save the tooth and make it fully functional once again. Depending on the condition of the tooth, most root canals are routine procedures that can be completed in two trips to the dentist office. Here are the steps involved in most root canals:
- Your dentist numbs the tooth and the surrounding gum tissue. If necessary, your dentist may place a dental dam around the tooth to keep it dry and clean while the procedure is done.
- Using a drill, your dentist will create an opening inside the top of the affected tooth and remove the infected pulp. A tooth doesn’t require pulp in order to function normally, so removing the pulp won’t affect how the tooth feels or performs after the procedure. Typically, the dentist will use small files to create an inner chamber inside the tooth. That chamber will then be flushed with water and injected with an antimicrobial solution.
- Your dentist will then fill the chamber with a rubber-like dental material, and will apply a temporary filling or crown over the tooth to protect it until a permanent restoration can be created.
- In most circumstances, your dentist will place a permanent crown (or some similar type of restoration) over the tooth a couple of weeks later, during your second trip to the dentist office. This restoration will protect the affected tooth and the root canal work that was done.
If your dentist recommends a root canal, there’s no need to worry. This common procedure is performed each and every day in dentists’ and endodontists’ offices throughout the country. It is a relatively straightforward procedure and an excellent way to save a tooth that might otherwise be lost.