If you have a tooth that is fractured, severely decayed, or has an infection (abscess), your dentist may recommend root canal therapy (often the word “therapy” is dropped and the procedure is commonly referred to as just “root canal”). Root canals are used to repair and save your tooth instead of extracting it.
What’s Involved in a Root Canal?
Every tooth has a root canal system which houses the blood vessels and nerve fibers of the tooth. The blood vessels and nerve fibers are referred to as the pulp of a tooth. Tooth structure is living tissue so it requires oxygen so that’s why there are blood vessels inside each tooth. The pulp can become infected if you have:
- A deep cavity that goes to the pulp (the bacteria that creates the cavity is now in the root canal system).
- A cracked or fractured tooth
- Blunt trauma to a tooth causing injury to the blood vessels entering the roots.
If untreated, the tooth can become infected. If this happens, you may develop pain and swelling and an abscess may form in the bone around the end of the root of the tooth. The bacteria in the bone can break down the bone matrix which could lead to lose of the tooth.
What You Should Expect for Root Canal Treatment?
Root canal therapy can take 1 or 2 office visits to complete. Since your dentist will use a local anesthetic (Novocaine), the procedure is typically pain-free.
Before Treatment Begins, Your Dentist Will:
- Take X-rays to see the apex of the root and surrounding bone.
- Numb the area around and including your tooth so you are comfortable during the treatment.
During treatment, Your Dentist Will:
- Create an opening (access to the pulp) through the biting surface of the tooth.
- Remove the blood vessels and nerve fibers from inside the root canal system of the tooth.
- Irrigate the root canal system with germ-killing medicine.
- Fill the root canals with a rubber-like material called gutta percha to seal the apex of the roots.
- Cover the access with a temporary filling until a permanent filling or crown can be placed.
What Happens After Root Canal Treatment:
- The tooth and surrounding area may be a little tender for a few days. Your dentist will talk to you about what you can do to lessen the discomfort.
- Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics due to the nature of the infection.
Why Do You Need a Root Canal?
A modern root canal treatment is nothing similar to those well-known axioms! There’s no need to be concerned for a root canal treating a harmed or infected tooth. You’ll be returned to smiling, talking, and biting easily right away.
Dr. George Orfaly from Fisher & Orfaly Dental states the countless practical benefits on how saving the natural tooth is a clever option. Endodontic Therapy or Root Canal Therapy performed on the infected tooth gives innumerable benefits like:
- Substantial painless procedure and speedy recovery
- Cures the infection from spreading elsewhere the tooth
- Penny-wise convenient and efficient treatment
- Visually pleasant outcome and after-effect
- Stops the disinfection on the jawbone and the brain
- Strengthens the overall oral health
Care To Be Taken After Root Canal Treatment:
There are certain guidelines you follow immediately after getting root canal treatment:
- Do not eat overly hard food immediately after the treatment.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day.
- Floss once a day to prevent future infections.
- Reduce the amounts of sugary foods that you consume.
How Long Will a Tooth That Had a Root Canal Last?
A tooth that has had root canal therapy can last a lifetime. It is always important to maintain good oral hygiene habits and visit your dentist regularly to ensure optimal oral health.
About Dr. George Orfaly:
Dr. George Orfaly is a Doctor of Medicine in Dentistry and has been practicing as a dentist in Salem, MA since 2005. He has consistently improved the lives of his patients by providing them relief, confidence, and healthy smiles.
His expertise lies in treating various dental issues like cracked teeth, lost or missing teeth, misaligned or crowded teeth, tooth decay (cavities), and so on. He believes that oral health is directly related to overall health and well-being.
Dr. Orfaly has also been an active member of the American Dental Association, Massachusetts Dental Society, and North Shore District Dental Society.
This article was first posted on October 26, 2019 and last updated on April 12, 2021