Before we dive into what a root canal treatment is, we must first understand the basic structure of a tooth.
The natural tooth has the following layers –
The Outermost Enamel
This is the white visible portion of the tooth. Made of the hardest natural substance in the human body, the enamel.
The Middle Dentine
Underneath the hard enamel lies the yellow, soft, and spongy dentin. It consists of the tooth’s nerve endings.
The Underlying Pulp Chamber
In the center of the tooth lies the pulp chamber. It contains the connective tissue, blood vessels, and nerves that are responsible for the tooth’s vitality. The pulp chamber exists in the tooth crown and channels into canals in the root area. The canals are also known as root canals.
The root canal treatment is a procedure that is performed when the pulp chamber of a tooth is affected due to trauma or infection. This is done to preserve the tooth in the mouth and as an alternative to tooth extraction.
A root canal treatment is done in multiple steps. Here’s what you can expect in your root canal treatment –
Before your dentist starts the root canal treatment, they will thoroughly examine your oral cavity. They will also take x-rays of the affected tooth to assess the condition of the root and the bone, and the extent of the infection or injury.
The tooth is also isolated using a rubber dam to prevent contamination from saliva.
Injecting Local Anesthesia
A small amount of numbing agent is injected into your gums surrounding the tooth. Once the anesthetic effect sets in, you will not be able to feel a thing during the procedure.
The anesthesia helps you be pain-free, calm, and comfortable. You might feel a small pinch or a burning sensation when the anesthesia is injected, but it will pass quickly.
Accessing The Pulp Chamber
The next step is to get rid of the infected tissue using specific dental instruments. A drill is also used to access the pulp chamber underneath the tooth surface.
Removal Of The Pulp Tissue
While the tooth is numb, your dentist will expose the pulp chamber and start removing the infected or damaged pulp tissue. This step is performed using fine dental instruments called “files”. These also help clean out the root canals.
Cleaning and Shaping The Canals
Once the infected tissue has been removed, your dentist will flood the created space using a medicated liquid. This is done to flush out bacteria and debris from within the tooth.
They will also reshape the canals using dental instruments from the center of the tooth to the ends of the root. The canals are constantly cleaned and disinfected.
Sealing The Tooth
After the canals are reshaped and disinfected, your dentist will fill and seal the tooth with a rubber-like paste called gutta-percha. You might also be prescribed antibiotics to help with any remaining infection.
The first round of the root canal treatment ends with the placement of temporary filling material. This helps prevent damage by saliva while the patient waits for a permanent filling.
You will be prescribed over-the-counter medication to counter any soreness you feel after the anesthesia wears off. Call your dentist if the pain becomes unbearable or lasts for more than a couple of days.
Placement Of Permanent Filling
After a few days of the root canal, your dentist will call you in and take x-rays to ensure that the infection has subsided. They will then replace the temporary filling with a permanent one. This can either be silver or composite.
Your dentist will also recommend that you get fitted with a dental crown since a root canal-treated tooth is relatively weaker than its counterparts. A dental crown prevents the tooth from fracturing under stress.
One of the greatest myths surrounding a root canal treatment is that it is extremely painful. However, that isn’t the case.
A root canal treatment performed by a trained dental expert is relatively painless. The pain you feel comes from the infection in your mouth and not from the procedure. The root canal treatment does not cause pain, rather it helps alleviate it.
The local anesthesia used helps in numbing the tooth and surrounding areas, preventing the patient from feeling pain.
After the treatment is complete, tenderness is normal but temporary. An antibiotic might be prescribed along with a painkiller to help with the soreness and to prevent infection.
Dr. David Tycast is the dental expert at Le Sueur Family Dental. With over 10 years of experience, Dr. Tycast specializes in endodontic treatments, aka root canal treatments. His skills combined with a state-of-the-art dental setup ensure that you will be well taken care of along with being as pain-free and comfortable as possible.
To know more about root canal treatments at Le Sueur, book an appointment by dialing (507) 665-6812. Alternatively, you can also request an appointment on this page.