A root canal can sound scary but in reality, it is a standard procedure that most dentists perform regularly. Root canals are feared by many but we’re here to explain what exactly to expect with a root canal, why they’re so important and how they contribute to keeping a happy, healthy smile.
Simply put, a root canal is a treatment is meant to save a tooth that is suffering due to severe decay. Root canal procedures are necessary when this decay is deep within a tooth and cannot be treated as a more common cavity. The pulp inside your tooth becomes infected with bacteria so in order to save your tooth, the bacteria must be removed from the pulp so it can continue to live.
Most root canal procedures are performed with a four-step process highlighted below:
- Anesthesia is administered to the tooth that will receive the root canal treatment. Typically done with a needle, this can be intimidating but patients will only feel a little pinch.
- The procedure will begin shortly when your tooth is numb, drilling a small hole into the tooth to be able to get to the decay. The dentist will begin to clean the decay out of your tooth, removing the dead pulp to get the tooth completely clean. Most dentists also use an antimicrobial solution to kill any decay left.
- Once the decay is removed and thoroughly cleaned, it is time to fill the hole. The material most often used is called gutta percha. After the hole is filled, a temporary filling is usually placed atop the tooth until the permanent crown is placed.
- On a second visit, your dentist will crown your tooth to protect the tooth from future damage. This second visit typically occurs between one-two weeks after the root canal procedure.