What happens during a root canal?

A root canal often evokes a scary response but when done properly by an experienced dentist the procedure shouldn’t be painful. So what exactly happens during a root canal, and what should you expect?

First of all, a root canal is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that’s badly decayed or infected. During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp of the tooth are removed and the inside is cleaned and sealed.

A tooth’s nerve is not vitally important to a tooth’s health and function. The absence of a nerve won’t affect how your tooth works. But, without treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth can become infected and an abscess may form. An abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms at the end of the roots of the tooth.

An infection in the root canal of a tooth can cause:

  • Swelling that may spread to other areas of the face, neck, or head
  • Bone loss around the tip of the root
  • Drainage problems extending outward from the root. A hole can occur through the side of the tooth with drainage into the gums or through the cheek with drainage into the skin.

The procedure will follow these steps:

  • Your dentist will take an X-ray to see the shape of the root canals and determine if there are any signs of infection in the surrounding bone. They’ll use local anesthesia to numb the area near the tooth.
  • To keep the area dry and free of saliva during treatment, your dentist will place a sheet of rubber around the tooth.
  • The next step is drilling into the tooth. The pulp, bacteria, and decayed nerve tissue are removed from the tooth.
  • Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, it’s sealed. Some dentists like to wait a week before sealing the tooth. For instance, if there is an infection, your dentist may put a medication inside the tooth to clear it up. Others may choose to seal the tooth the same day it is cleaned out. If the root canal isn’t done on the same day, a temporary filling is placed in the exterior hole in the tooth to keep out saliva and food between appointments.
  • At the next appointment, to fill the interior of the tooth, a sealer paste and a rubber compound are placed into the root canal. A filling will be put in to close the access hole created at the beginning of treatment.
  • The final step may involve further restoration of the tooth. A tooth that needs a root canal often is one that has a large filling or extensive decay or other weakness. Because of that, you may need a crown, crown and post, or other restoration to protect it, prevent it from breaking, and restore it to full function.

Your dentist will discuss the need for any additional dental work with you. The procedure of a root canal can be performed by your dentist and though it often evokes a scary response, when done properly by an experienced dentist the procedure shouldn’t be painful.

The most important thing to do if you have severe tooth decay is to first find a local dentist that has the team and experience necessary to properly treat you. The sooner you get to the dentist whenever a problem arises, the higher the chances of success your procedure will have. That’s why we encourage Lemoyne area residents to contact Fox Dental for a root canal and treatment needs.

Don’t wait! Fixing your tooth now can save you from more pain later!

If you’re experiencing tooth pain, swelling, and discomfort you should contact us at 717-761-0341 and get it taken care of before it gets worse.