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Root Canal Treatment: What It Is, Procedure, Benefits, Recovery

Dentist performing root canal treatment on a patient.
Young woman getting root canal treatment by dentist and assistant.

While most patients cringe when they think of visiting the doctor for root canal treatment, clearing up some misconceptions can help ease anxiety. A proficient dentist will be able to perform the procedure and get you back to feeling well in no time.

What Is a Root Canal?

Your teeth are an important part of your everyday life and are meant to last for your entire life. Your oral health is also closely linked to your overall bodily health. Sometimes, even with proper dental care, teeth can need repair and treatment. Root canal treatment can often help to save a diseased or injured tooth that is in need of repair.

While the outside of your tooth looks solid, underneath the exterior, there are many layers. The part you can see is the crown of the tooth, and the root is what anchors it in place in the gums and jaw bone.

The crown houses the pulp chamber which extends into the root where it is called the root canal. There may be multiple root canals in each root. The root canals are where the dental pulp is contained which includes all the nerves and blood vessels.

Reasons You Need Root Canal Treatment

A root canal treatment is needed if the pulp tissue is infected and inflamed. During the procedure, the infected pulp is removed from the canal to prevent it from spreading. There are several different reasons why the pulp may be injured or diseased.

The dental pulp may be damaged if a tooth is cracked or chipped. A tooth requiring a deep filling, a leaking filling, or a complication from a larger filling are other reasons for a root canal. Any other injuries to a tooth can also lead to damaged pulp because it allows bacteria to enter and cause infection.

Treatment Procedure

Depending on the extent of the infection, root canal treatment may take more than one dental visit. The dentist will follow the same basic steps in every procedure, and taking the time to learn a little bit about it can help ease any nervousness you may be feeling.

Treatment Prep

First, your tooth is numbed. A dental dam is used to cover your tooth to keep it dry. This is made out of a thin, flexible sheet of latex material so it can be easily fit to your tooth.

Pulp Removal

After your tooth is numb, a small opening is made in the crown of your tooth. This opening extends all the way down into the pulp chamber. Through this hole, the pulp is removed from the pulp chamber and both roots. Both root canals are then cleaned and disinfected.

Temporary Filling

Once the root canals are properly emptied and cleaned, they are ready to be filled. A rubber-like substance is used to fill in the empty spaces to seal them completely. Once the tooth is filled, a temporary filling is put on top to prevent any further infection.

Permanent Filling

Once Dr. Moulton is satisfied with your progress, the temporary filling is removed and a permanent filling or a crown is used to finish the procedure. The filling or crown helps to restore the complete function of your tooth by improving its shape. It also helps the tooth to blend in with the other teeth instead of standing out.

Healing Time

Root canal treatments must be entirely completed in order to be successful. This means you will need to follow all instructions given by Dr. Moulton and go to all your appointments. Not following all instructions can make the procedure ineffective and will lead to the need for more dental work. It is best to follow the instructions the first time to avoid complications.

Benefits and Risks of Root Canal Treatment

The main benefit of a root canal is that the tooth can be saved. Before root canal treatment was available, the tooth would just be removed once it became infected. Now that a root canal can be performed, the tooth can often be saved, even after the infection has set in the tooth.

There are some risks with a root canal that should be monitored. Once the tooth is devitalized, it can become more prone to chipping. Sometimes the tooth can also darken after the procedure that will need to be corrected with a teeth whitening procedure or veneers.

Recovery After Treatment

After the procedure, you will likely feel some mild pain or discomfort. If you have concerns about pain levels, talk to your dentist. Most pain can be easily managed with over-the-counter medication.

You should talk to Dr. Moulton to discuss possible issues if you are having severe pain or pressure for more than a few days after the procedure. You should also reach out to your dental team if you notice swelling in your mouth or if your bite is uneven.

Your dentist should give you specific instructions for recovery, but you should not bite down or chew with the treated tooth until the permanent crown is placed. You should also take care to continue the proper oral hygiene practices like flossing and brushing regularly to prevent infection. Other instructions given by Dr. Moulton should be followed in order to prevent complications.

Even though the procedure is basically the same, each patient is a little bit different, so it is important to know how to best support your individual recovery.

Contact a Dentist In Lexington, SC

When a tooth is damaged, it is important to seek intervention as soon as possible. Not only will it keep you from having to deal with unnecessary pain, but it will also help prevent the spread of infection to other areas of your mouth.

Our dental team is ready to step in and help you get back to feeling your best. Dr. Moulton will work with you to make sure the procedure goes as smoothly as possible. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.