Root Canal Therapy
Root Canals: FAQs About Treatment That Can Save Your Tooth
What’s Involved in Root Canal Repair?
The pulp is soft tissue inside your tooth that contains nerves, blood vessels and provides nourishment for your tooth. It can become infected if you have:
- A deep cavity
- Repeated dental procedures that disturb this tissue
- A cracked or fractured tooth
- Injury to the tooth (even if there’s not a visible crack or chip)
If untreated, the tissues around the root of your tooth can become infected. When this happens, you will often feel pain and swelling and an abscess may form inside the tooth and/or in the bone around the end of the root of the tooth. An infection can also put you at risk of losing your tooth completely because bacteria can damage the bone that keeps your tooth connected to your jaw.
Can I Get This Treatment Done During My Regular Check-up Visit?
What Should I Expect?
A root canal treatment usually takes 1 or 2 office visits to complete. There is little to no pain because your dentist will use local anesthesia so you don’t feel the procedure. Once the procedure is complete, you should no longer feel the pain you felt before having it done.
Before treatment begins, your dentist will:
- Take X-rays to get a clear view of your tooth and the surrounding bone.
- Numb the area around and including your tooth so you are comfortable during the treatment.
- Put a thin sheet of latex rubber over your tooth to keep it dry, clean and protected from viruses, bacteria and fungus that are normally in the mouth.
During treatment, your dentist will:
- Create an opening in the top of your tooth.
- Remove the tooth’s nerve from inside the tooth and in the areas in the root, known the root canal.
- Clean inside the tooth and each root canal. Your dentist may treat the tooth with germ-killing medicine.
- Fill the root canals with a rubber-like material to seal them against future infection.
- Place a temporary filling on the tooth to protect it until a definitive restoration like a permanent filling or crown can be placed at the earliest opportunity.
After root canal treatment:
- Your tooth and the area around it may feel sensitive for a few days. You can talk with your dentist about how to relieve any discomfort you may have.
- Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics if the infection spread. Use as directed, and follow up with your dentist if you have any problems taking it.
You will need a follow-up visit after the root canal treatment. At this visit, your dentist will remove the temporary filling on the tooth and replace it with a regular filling or a crown to protect your tooth from further damage. A metal or plastic post may also be placed in the root canal to help make sure the filling materials remain in place. This helps support a crown if you need one.
Who should receive sealant treatment?
Children, because they have newly erupted, permanent teeth, receive the greatest benefit from sealants. The chewing surfaces of a child’s teeth are most susceptible to cavities and the least benefited by fluoride. Surveys show that approximately two-thirds of all cavities occur in the narrow pits and grooves of a child’s newly erupted teeth because food particles and bacteria cannot be cleaned out. Other patients also can benefit from sealant placement, such as those who have existing pits and grooves susceptible to decay. Research has shown that almost everybody has a 95 percent chance of eventually experiencing cavities in the pits and grooves of their teeth.
Brushing and flossing are the best ways to help prevent cavities, but it’s not always easy to clean every nook and cranny of your teeth – especially those back teeth you use to chew (called molars). Molars are rough, uneven and a favorite place for leftover food and cavity-causing bacteria to hide.
Still, there’s another safety net to help keep those teeth clean. It’s called a sealant, and it is a thin, protective coating (made from plastic or other dental materials) that adheres to the chewing surface of your back teeth. They’re no substitute for brushing and flossing, but they can keep cavities from forming and may even stop early stages of decay from becoming a full-blown cavity.
In fact, sealants have been shown to reduce the risk of decay by nearly 80% in molars. This is especially important when it comes to your child’s dental health. In October 2016, the Centers for Disease Control released a report on the importance of sealants for school-aged children, of which only 43% of children ages 6-11 have. According to the CDC, “school-age children without sealants have almost three times more cavities than children with sealants.”
You may have many questions about sealants, and we have answers for you below. Read on to learn more about sealing out tooth decay.