What is a Root Canal?
The root canal treatment procedure, also known as endodontic treatment, is a common procedure in modern dentistry that is used to remove inflamed or infected tissue from inside a tooth.
When a tooth becomes infected, that infection can spread into the center of the tooth. This area is called the dental pulp. Inside of the dental pulp are the nerves and blood supply. All of the sensitive areas of the tooth are contained here. As such, when the area becomes infected it can be incredibly painful, requiring immediate treatment
How does the treatment work?
A root canal endodontic procedure works by creating a small hole in the tooth so inner soft tissue can be removed. The roots have tiny tunnels called canals that need to be cleaned out too. Sometimes antibiotics are needed if the tissue was infected.
The cleaned-out canals are filled in with a rubbery material called gutta percha. The pulp chamber of the tooth is filled in with a strong filler. As a final step the tooth is covered with a crown to stabilize it.
When a tooth gets to the point where it needs a root canal it has a serious problem. The root canal procedure is usually the last effort in saving a tooth.
What are the signs of needing a root canal?
There are a few symptoms that mean you might need a root canal—
- Severe pain while chewing or biting
- Pimples on the gums
- A cracked tooth
- Lingering sensitivity to hot or cold, even after cold or heat has been removed
- Swollen or tender gums
- Deep decay
What about discomfort?
There’s plenty of stories to scare people about the procedure. However, a vast majority of the time if the tooth’s infection can be well managed then anesthetic works quite well. Many patients are surprised afterwards how simple and straight forward the procedure is.
But, for those who are a little more anxious there are sedation options available. This can be nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”), anti-anxiety pills, or IV sedation.
How to prevent a root canal?
To prevent a root canal, it’s important to follow the same dental hygiene habits that help prevent cavities and other tooth problems. To keep your teeth healthy, try to get into the habit of following these steps:
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
- Floss between your teeth at least once a day.
- Use fluoride toothpaste or a fluoride rinse.
- See your dentist for checkups every 6 months. *** Super important! Many problems can be caught in smaller stages and fixed prior to needing a root canal.
- Have your teeth professionally cleaned your dentist at least once a year.
- Try to limit the amount of sugary food and refined carbohydrates you eat. These foods tend to stick to your teeth. If you eat sugary foods, try to rinse your mouth, or brush your teeth shortly afterward.