Inside a normal tooth, beneath the enamel and hard dentin layers, is a substance known as pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. Under certain circumstances, this pulp can become inflamed or infected. This can be caused by tooth decay, faulty crowns, facial trauma, or a crack or chip in the tooth. Symptoms include persistent pain, uncomfortable chewing, extreme sensitivity to heat or cold, inflammation of the gums, and discoloration of the tooth. If left untreated, this infection can worsen and cause an abscess, swelling of the gums and surrounding tissue, and bone loss.
A root canal procedure removes the pulp and bacteria from the tooth, relieving pain, and repairing any damage to the tooth. Ordinarily, a root canal is performed by a dentist or endodontist in one or more sessions, depending on the severity of the infection. Your dentist will advise you how many appointments will be necessary to complete your root canal. Despite their uncomfortable reputation, the root canal procedure is normally no more painful than an ordinary filling.
How It Works
During a root canal, our dentists will first take X-rays to determine the shape of your tooth’s roots and examine the extent of infection. Next, a local anesthetic is given to numb the area surrounding the tooth, and a rubber sheet is placed around the tooth to keep it free from saliva. Your dentist will then drill an access hole into the tooth. The pulp, bacteria and decayed nerve tissue is then carefully removed.
If there is an infection, your dentist may place medication inside the tooth and temporarily seal it to allow the infection to heal. A follow-up appointment would then be necessary to permanently seal the tooth.
You may experience a few days of sensitivity following a root canal. This may be treated with over-the-counter pain medications. If you experience prolonged sensitivity or pain, contact your dentist. Your dentist will advise you on the care of your new filling or crown. Good oral hygiene, including regular brushing and flossing, will help keep your tooth healthy.