What is a Root Canal?
A root canal is needed when the pulp of the tooth has become inflamed or infected by decay, trauma, or repeated dental procedures. Your endodontist will evaluate the tooth and your symptoms, take a radiograph and determine which tooth requires treatment. After numbing the area a dental dam will be placed over the tooth to keep the area clean. An opening into the tooth is made, through which the endodontist will remove the pulp from the tooth using small instruments. After the pulp is removed the root canals will be filled and sealed with gutta percha, a rubber-like material that is biocompatible. After the procedure the endodontist will place a temporary filling in the original opening. Without this treatment pain and or an abscess can form. After the root canal is performed by the endodontist you will return to your dentist for a crown to protect the tooth and restore it to full function.
Is the Procedure Painful?
Root canals are performed to alleviate toothache pain and with modern anesthesia most patients undergo the procedure with no discomfort. After the procedure there is occasionally some slight discomfort that resolves in a few days. Usually, over-the-counter pain relievers alleviate the discomfort. However, if you develop severe pain or pressure that lasts more than a few days or swelling, call your endodontist.
After the Procedure
After the root canal you will need to see your general dentist to completely restore the tooth. The tooth will often need a crown. Until it is fully restored you should not chew on the tooth or it may fracture. Fracturing the tooth may result in an unrestorable situation which may require extraction of the tooth. After it is restored the tooth continues to function like any other tooth and, with proper care, can last a lifetime.
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