The Root Canal Procedure
A root canal procedure is a common dental procedure performed with the purpose of saving a diseased or damaged tooth. The root of the tooth is located in the center of the tooth and consists of a fiber-like tissue called the pulp. If the root becomes infected and is left untreated it can lead to more severe damage and may result in the tooth needing to be removed entirely. Dentists usually will elect to perform a root canal procedure to prevent the need for a tooth extraction. Today, the root canal procedure has become easier to perform and usually occurs in several easy steps. Below is more information detailing the steps of the root canal procedure:
A Root Canal: Step by Step
The root canal procedure usually takes one to two dental visits and includes the following steps:
- Numbing: First the dentist will administer a local anesthetic to minimize pain or discomfort from the procedure. After the area is numb, the dentist will prepare the mouth for the procedure, including placing a rubber dental dam in the mouth. This dam will help to keep the area around the tooth both clean and dry while the dentist works.
- Create an Opening in the Tooth: Once the mouth is prepped and numb the dentist will use a drill to create a small opening in the tooth. This hole needs to be big enough so the dentist can access the pulp at the center of the tooth. The location of the hole depends on which tooth needs to be treated. The hole will either be in the back of the tooth or on top of the tooth.
- Cleaning the Canal: After the hole has been created the dentist can start to perform the task of removing the pulp and cleaning out the center, or canal, of the tooth. During the cleaning the dentist will use a small file and sometimes water to wash away debris. This process can vary in time depending on how advance the disease or decay of the root is or depending on how many roots are in the tooth that need to be removed. For example, some molars have up to three roots.
- Filling: Once the root has been removed and the canal is clean, a filling will be placed inside the tooth. Today, fillings can be made from any number of materials. Which material is used usually depends on the dentist and what they decide is best for their patient.
- Final Touches: The final step of the procedure is to make sure that the tooth aesthetically matches the nearby teeth. Depending on the durability and health of the tooth this final step may include placing an artificial crown on top.
For a few days after the procedure it is common to experience some discomfort and minor swelling. The best way to ensure a quick recovery is to keep the mouth, teeth, and gums clean. Any concerns or pain after the procedure should be followed up with by contacting the dentist and scheduling a check-up.
More on Root Canals : What is a Root Canal?