Oral disease affects about 3.5 billion people every year. If you have an infected or abscessed tooth, you’re not alone. Thankfully, a root canal procedure can help repair and renew your smile.
Who needs a root canal? What can you expect during the procedure? What about aftercare?
Don’t worry; we’ve reviewed everything you need to know before your procedure. With this root canal preparation guide, you can schedule your appointment with peace of mind.
You can ease your dental anxiety and walk into your appointment feeling confident.
Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about root canals today!
What is a Root Canal?
About 15 million root canals are performed in the US every year. Root canal procedures are used to repair and save teeth that have become infected or decay.
Each tooth consists of crowns and roots. The crown appears above the gums, while the roots are located below. A tooth’s roots keep it attached to the jaw bone.
A root canal can ensure you preserve the tooth and your bite alignment. If the tooth is badly infected, the only other option is tooth extraction. Extracting the tooth could lead to other oral health issues.
There are a few situations when you might need a root canal.
For example, you might have abscessed teeth. Abscesses occur when bacterial infections and swelling develop within a tooth. An infection can cause a cyst.
The cyst or drainage could seep through your gum tissues and bone. You might notice pus working its way out of your tooth as a result.
The abscess will remain until you schedule a root canal.
Do your teeth seem hypersensitive for no reason? It’s possible you’re experiencing referred pain. You could have a hairline fracture or unknown trauma as well.
Your dentist can pinpoint the source of your discomfort. If the source of the problem is a nerve issue, you might need a root canal.
A traumatic injury (such as a car accident or sporting incident) could damage a tooth. A dying tooth will appear discolored compared to others. Gradual nerve death could develop over time.
You might need a root canal to save the tooth.
Remember, root canals can also help if a tooth is badly decayed. Usually, a dentist can repair a cavity with a small filling. If you don’t have enough healthy tooth structure, however, the filling won’t remain in place.
If the decay reaches a nerve, you’ll need a root canal to prevent total tooth loss. After the procedure, your dentist will place a dental crown over the compromised enamel. Then, you can use your tooth as you normally would.
Who Needs It?
Before we discuss root canal preparation, let’s discuss your symptoms. If you’re not sure whether or not you need this procedure, watch out for:
- Discoloration in a tooth
- Symptoms of tooth decay
- Severe pain
- Sensitivity when you chew
- A sore on your gums by a single tooth
- Salty-tasting discharge on your gums
- Large, older feelings
These symptoms could indicate a dying nerve within a tooth.
Otherwise, you could develop an infection in the root canal, which can cause swelling and bone loss.
Root Canal Procedure Steps
Schedule an appointment with your dentist. They’ll determine whether or not you need this procedure. Here are the steps involved with a typical root canal procedure.
First, your dentist will numb your gum tissues using a topical gel. Then, they’ll inject a local anesthetic into the nerves of your tooth.
The local anesthetic will ensure you won’t feel anything during the procedure. You should only experience a little discomfort.
Dental Dam Placement
Your dentist will then place a dental dam over the tooth they’re treating. The dental dam creates a protective barrier by isolating one tooth from others. It’s made from a sheet of stretchy material.
If you experience a gag reflex or feel claustrophobic, let your dentist know. They might consider sedation to ensure you’re comfortable.
Talk to your dentist about any sinus issues or allergies you have as well.
Opening the Tooth
Your dentist will use a handpiece to create an opening. The opening will give them access to your root canal. You might experience a small amount of pressure at this point.
At this stage, your dentist might also remove old fillings, decayed enamel, or other compromised structures.
Once your dentist opens the tooth, they’ll lift the nerve tissues inside. Moving the nerve issues out of the main chamber will leave hollow space inside your tooth.
Next, your dentist will need to place a disinfection solution into the canals. This solution neutralizes any residual bacteria from the abscess or decay. Disinfecting ensures your dentist has a sterile environment they can work with.
Otherwise, leaving debris or infection could lead to a failed procedure.
Your dentist might need to place additional medication down your tooth as well.
To thoroughly clean the canal and remove any remaining nerve tissue, your dentist will file within the canal. Rotary files are gentle and effective. Using a rotary file can also expedite this step in the process.
Filling the Canal
Next, your dentist will need to fill the nerve chambers. They might need to take an X-ray at this stage to ensure the filling reaches the root tip.
Placing the Crown
Once they’ve filled the canal, your dentist can put the crown in place. The crown creates a protective exterior cover. It ensures non-vital enamel doesn’t break down when you use your teeth.
Your dentist might place a temporary crown first. Once they receive your permanent crown, you can schedule your follow-up appointment.
Your dentist might need to add extra reinforcement for the crown as well.
After your root canal procedure, talk to your dentist about your root canal aftercare plan.
If you feel discomfort, place a cool compress against your face to ease any soreness. You should feel okay within a few days. Talk to your dentist about taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medications if you experience additional discomfort.
Don’t forget to brush and floss!
Preparing for Your Root Canal Procedure: 8 Steps to Repairing Your Smile
Feel ready for your root canal procedure? Make sure to discuss your options with a dentist beforehand. They’ll help you determine if this form of treatment is right for you.
With a root canal appointment, you can renew your smile.
Want to keep your teeth happy and healthy? Check out these guides for more helpful tips today.