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Endodontics 101: Understanding Root Canal Treatments

June 28th, 2024

The root canal is often thought of as one of the more dreaded dental procedures, but it doesn’t really deserve this reputation. If you have an abscess or an infection in your tooth root, then a root canal treatment is often the best way to put an end to the pain and save your tooth. And the procedure itself is not that painful! It’s done with a local anesthetic, so you shouldn’t feel any pain while your dentist is working. So what, exactly, is a root canal, and what does it achieve? Take a look.

Root Canals: Defined

The term “endodontics” refers to the field of dentistry that involves the soft tissues inside the tooth, otherwise known as the dental pulp. As a part of the pulp, the tooth has little, canal-like channels that run down into its roots. These are known as the root canals.

A root canal is a procedure in which the root canals are cleaned out. Or in other words, the pulp is removed from the root canals. A root canal procedure can also be called an “endodontic procedure.” Dentists who specialize in root canal treatments or endodontic treatments are called “Endodontists” or “Endodontic Specialists.”

When Are Root Canals Needed?

Sometimes, the pulp inside a patient’s tooth may become infected with oral bacteria. This can happen if a cavity goes untreated for some time. It can also be a result of periodontal disease. In either case, a tooth infection tends to cause the following symptoms:

  • Throbbing or sharp pain in or around the tooth
  • Extreme sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Sensitivity to pressure
  • Redness and swelling of the gums around the tooth
  • A foul taste in the mouth
  • Pus or discharge from the gums
  • The appearance of a pimple-like abscess on the surface of the gums

If you have any or all of these symptoms, you should visit your dentist. They can examine your mouth and take some x-rays to determine if a tooth infection is, indeed, to blame. If they do diagnose an infection, you may need a root canal.

A root canal procedure essentially removes the infected material inside your tooth root. This way, your body can fight off any remaining bacteria, sometimes with the help of antibiotics. It’s important to receive treatment before the infection is able to spread elsewhere, such as into your jaw bone tissue or blood.

Root Canal: Steps

So, what happens when you visit your dentist for a root canal? Typically the visit starts off with an explanation of the treatment being done. Next, they’ll inject a local anesthetic close to the affected tooth. Within a few minutes, your tooth and the surrounding tissue will be numb. Then, your dentist will isolate the tooth they’ll be working on, and begin treatment. 

With the tooth numb and isolated, your dentist will often use a specialized tool to create a hole in the surface of your tooth. Through this hole, they’ll be able to access your root canal. They’ll then use a series of small picking and suction tools to remove the decaying tissue from inside the root canals. When the canals are empty, they’ll use a special, antiseptic liquid to rinse them.

Next, your dentist will fill the empty root canals with a silicone material. This will help support the root canals and keep them strong, going forward. Finally, they’ll fill the hole they drilled to access your root canals.

Patients who have root canals usually leave with a temporary crown on their tooth. This crown will protect the tooth while you eat and chew. A few weeks later, you can return to your dentist for a permanent crown. The crown covers your tooth and keeps it stable and strong – which is needed after a root canal.

Root Canal: Recovery

Most patients don’t have any pain after treatment, although some may have a sore jaw from having to hold their mouth open for so long. Your dentist may have you take antibiotics for a week or so in order to fight off any remaining infection.And that’s all there is to it! If your dentist says you need a root canal, there’s no need to be nervous. Root canals are common, effective, and straightforward. Contact CD Dental Care if you have any questions, or if you’re looking for a new dentist in North York.

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