Endodontic treatment, otherwise known as a root canal, is a procedure that removes and heals an infection in the root of the tooth. It usually involves removing the nerves and pulp of the tooth.
That may sound intimidating, but in actuality a root canal is a quick, easy procedure that in itself is not painful. In fact, the goal of a root canal procedure is to alleviate tooth pain and prevent more serious problems, such as abscesses, from developing. Root canals are a common procedure, with 22.3 million procedures performed every year.
Signs you need a root canal
There are some telltale signs that you may need a root canal. Among them include:
- Increased sensitivity to hot or cold foods
- Swelling of the gums
- Discoloration of the tooth
How long does a root canal take?
30 to 90 minutes. The timeframe of the root canal procedure depends on the severity of the infection. Typically, the more infected the tooth, the longer the procedure will take.
The root canal process
The root canal procedure is a five-step process:
- The dentist takes X-rays of the tooth and then numbs it before beginning the procedure.
- The dentist places a protective film over the tooth and then makes an opening in the tooth.
- The dentist removes the infected areas of the tooth with very small tools.
- The dentist places a filling in the top of the tooth.
- At a later date, the dentist may fill the clean root with a material called gutta-percha to seal the inside of the tooth. He or she will then place a permanent filling, or crown over the tooth to protect it.
In some cases, the dentist may need to place a post inside the tooth for additional support.
Does a root canal hurt?
The root canal procedure is designed to relieve, not cause, tooth pain. There will be some discomfort following the procedure, but the pain will be alleviated in the long run. Your dentist may prescribe you some pain medication to cope in the short term.
If you typically experience anxiety during dental procedures, sedation dentistry may be a wise option to consider.
Root canal complications
Root canals are routine procedures that successfully correct the problem most of the time. That being said, there are always risks associated with medical procedures, including root canals.
While rare, some of the more common root canal complications include:
- Re-decay of the crown
- Dental instruments breaking off inside the tooth
- Missed canals
- Root cracks
It’s important to discuss any concerns you may about your root canal procedure with your dentist.
Are you experiencing tooth pain or sensitivity? You may need a root canal. Contact us today to schedule your appointment.