If you’re experiencing pain or discomfort, it may be a problem with your root canal.
Did you just wince when you read the words ‘root canal treatment’? You’re not alone. And yet, root canal treatments are very common, and the good news is we can handle most root canal procedures right here at our dental practice in Clarkson.
What exactly is a root canal treatment?
When we talk about root canal treatments, we’re referring to a procedure to remove the infected nerve inside a tooth and its root canal. Some teeth (the front teeth) have a single canal, and some teeth (the back teeth) have multiple canals.
When and why do we recommend root canal treatment?
Your dentist may recommend root canal treatment, as a last resort, to save your tooth from being extracted. The procedure may be required because:
- a dental abscess is causing pain or swelling
- active decay has affected the nerve or pulp of the tooth
- there has been some trauma or an accident that has fractured the tooth and affected the nerve or pulp – problems can occur years after the trauma or accident.
What happens during a root canal treatment?
During root canal treatment, the tooth’s nerve is removed, then the tooth is cleaned and disinfected, after which it is filled and fitted with a crown. At all stages, a local anaesthetic is given to make your tooth completely numb, and a rubber dam or sheet is used to isolate and protect your tooth.
While cases vary from person to person, here’s what generally happens during the three stages of root canal treatment:
- Using a drill, a small opening is made in the tooth to access and remove the infected nerve. An antibiotic/anti-inflammatory dressing is placed inside the canal of the tooth and a temporary filling is used to protect the tooth and canal.
- The canal is cleaned using special files, then it is dried and redressed with an antibiotic/anti-inflammatory paste. Another temporary filling is applied to protect the tooth and canal.
- Once the tooth has settled down, it is cleaned and given a permanent filling, followed by a crown a few weeks later.
We take digital radiographs (x-rays) at every stage to check the length of the canal and, ultimately, the finished filling. Sometimes, we’ll prescribe antibiotics during treatment.
Why not just extract the tooth?
If we extract a tooth, it leaves an empty space which, unless it is filled, will lead to the adjacent and opposing teeth moving into the space, affecting your bite and causing a loss of function.
Why does the tooth need a crown?
A crown is more than just a cosmetic finish – it’s an essential part of any root canal treatment that provides strength and stability, protecting the tooth, preserving its function and providing a natural appearance.
Prevention is better than root-canal cure
The best way to avoid root canal treatment is to maintain good dental health, which starts with regular examinations and hygienes.