Root Canal Fundamentals

The Root Canal – More Effective and Comfortable Than Ever Before

It is true that root canals have a bad reputation, but the fact is that they represent one of the best options to save natural teeth that are otherwise failing. Because of technological advances in dentistry, this procedure is now more effective and comfortable than ever before.

It used to be that the mere mention of a root canal would strike fear in the hearts of dental patients everywhere. Nowadays, however, advanced dental imaging, techniques and materials have rendered the root canal virtually as easy and safe as a routine filling.

Why Are Root Canals Performed?

Within human teeth there is pulp that contains nerves and blood vessels that serve to nourish the tooth itself. When these nerves are compromised in some way, it is possible that they will die. This can occur when the tooth is fractured or chipped, if there is nerve trauma, a deep cavity develops, or when a tooth has undergone multiple restoration attempts over time.

If allowed to go untreated, a dying nerve will likely develop an abscess or infection that produces swelling, pain, and may even harm the underlying structure of the bone and teeth that surround the problem tooth.

Should a root canal be deemed necessary, the dentist will either schedule the procedure in their own office or provide a referral to an endodontist who specializes in such matters.

A woman showing teeth and gums

How Does It Work?

Despite the rumours that surround root canal procedures, this is a relatively simple and often painless process. You may require up to two visits to address the issue, and this will depend on how severe the underlying infection is and whether or not the relevant canals are easily accessible.

The first step is for the dentist to administer a local anaesthetic and take an x-ray of the affected tooth. Once numbness has been achieved, the dentist may or may not put a rubber dam on the problem tooth. This can help with stopping bacteria from making its way to the affected area after the dentist has eliminated the infection.

Then, a small opening will be made into the actual tooth, through which the pulp and the nerve will be removed with small files. Next, a disinfecting solution is used to wash away remaining bacteria. After the canals have been sterilized, a rubber-like medium known as gutta-percha will be used to stave off new infections and add stability to the roots.

Following the Procedure

After the process is complete, the dentist may apply a short-term filling that will remain until a permanent crown or filling is done. This provides the dentist with a window of time in which to monitor the progress of the healing and ensure that all infection has been eradicated.

In the time following the procedure, there may some tooth sensitivity and soreness. If you had a particularly serious infection in the tooth, your dentist may ask you to take prescription antibiotics.

If you observe proper dental care and have regular cleanings, teeth treated with root canals, are effectively the same as natural teeth and can last the same amount of time. The fact is that preserving the health of natural teeth is easier and less painful than ever before!

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