All About Root Canals
Your tooth is severely damaged, but your general dentist thinks it can be saved and recommends a root canal by an Endodontist. Let’s learn what to expect during a root canal to prepare for your upcoming procedure.
Preparation of the Area
Dr. Hancock examines and takes x-rays of the tooth, then administers local anesthetic. The injections send the numbing agent into the gums and the tooth’s root. After the tooth is completely numb, a dental dam is placed around the tooth.
A dental dam is a thin, 6-inch square sheet, usually made from latex or nitrile, used to isolate the tooth to keep it clean and dry during the procedure. Once this is done you are ready to go.
Accessing and Cleaning the Roots
Dr. Hancock then drills an opening through the tooth’s crown to access the root and pulp chamber. Tiny instruments clean out the pulp from the chamber and root canals all the way to the tip of the roots. An antibacterial and antiseptic solution cleans and disinfects the canals, eliminating bacteria and treating the infection located in the canals.
Shaping the Canals
As soon as the cleaning is done, the canals must be shaped with tiny instruments to prepare the tooth for the filling material. Once the canals are shaped, they are then cleaned a second time.
Filling the Canals
Your endodontist will use a biocompatible material called gutta-percha to fill the canals. It is a rubber-like resin material that is placed inside the canals and then heated to about 40°C to soften the material and adapt and adhere to the root. The dentist presses the material to fit snugly against the walls.
Filling to the Access Hole
Dr. Hancock will then seal the hole made with an adhesive cement. This filling prevents bacteria from entering the tooth. If the tooth doesn’t have sufficient structure to hold the restoration in place, your endodontist may place a post inside the tooth. This post is only necessary if the tooth is severely damaged and cannot support its restoration.
Healing and Antibiotics
Quite often, the patient is sent home with a prescription for antibiotics. The antibiotics are used to kill off the rest of the tooth’s infection. The patient will also be given post-care instructions as to what foods they should avoid and things to expect the following few days.
It is normal to experience discomfort after the procedure. Over-the-counter pain medications usually alleviate the mild pain. The most important is to get adequate rest for at least 24 hours following the procedure. Resting will help you recuperate and heal.
Adding the Crown
A crown will be placed around the treated tooth to add more strength and stability. The permanent crown will perfectly match the existing teeth. Once set, the tooth can handle the forces of chewing once again.
As you can see, the procedure is quite simple and nothing to worry about.
Read this recent review by Carol Tyson:
Oh, how I dreaded and feared getting a root canal yesterday! But Dr. Hancock and his Dental Assistant, Raney, took good care of me. No pain during the procedure! Just a good measure of kind thoughtfulness and impressive professional skill! Watching a movie during the procedure was a nice distraction and helped the time pass. Front desk staff was accommodating and friendly and very adept handling my paperwork and insurance. I’ve already recommended this practice to two of my friends.
How do I Know if I Need a Root Canal?
Endodontic treatment (read here) is necessary when the tooth’s pulp, or the soft tissue inside the root canal, becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can have various causes:
- – deep decay and repeated dental procedures on the tooth
- – crack or chip in the tooth
- – injury to a tooth with no visible chips or cracks
If pulp infection or inflammation is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess (read more here). If you need a root canal, it is vital to act quickly, so your dentist can save the tooth.
How Long Does a Root Canal Take?
The average root canal treatment is anywhere from 30 to 60 minutes long. More complicated cases may take around 90 minutes. A root canal typically requires one or two appointments to complete.
Can I Eat After the Root Canal?
Soft foods must be eaten for two to three days after the root canal procedure. Avoid as much as possible eating anything which is too hot or cold. Don’t eat crunchy or hard food till you have crowns. For relief from discomfort, rinse the mouth with lukewarm salt water.
Is a Root Canal Painful?
A root canal procedure sounds scary, but it’s typically not a whole lot different from having a deep filling. With today’s technology, there’s little to no pain because local anesthesia is used to numb your tooth and gums for more comfort during the procedure.
Our goal at HH Hancock III Root Canal Endodontist is to provide only the best quality and compassion. We strive to make your visit as relaxed and comfortable as possible. We pride ourselves on being the leading provider of oral hygiene and personalized dental services in Raleigh, North Carolina. If you have questions about root canal therapy please give us a call at +1(919)781-9905 or send us an email.