The root canal is a procedure through which a deeply affected tooth is saved from extraction. It is the final step of endodontic treatment. Within the tooth, the dental pulp is held in a room called the endodontium. The dental pulp has an important role in tooth development and contributes to its health afterward. If the dental pulp is affected or damaged by bacteria, it dies and can lead to the loss of the tooth. To prevent this, the affected tissue is removed through endodontic treatment, and the tooth canal is obturated. Symptoms of dental pulp infection include pain during mastication, heat discomfort, gum inflammation or dental abscesses.
We will first give a dental x-ray that confirms the presence of the infection, the extent of the damage is assessed, and the treatment is planned out. The next step is the use of anesthetic depending on whether the tooth is still sensitive (if the nerve is alive).
After anesthetic, the affected pulp is then removed. The cavity is cleaned, and any dental abscess is drained at this time. After the area of the cavity is cleaned, the next step is the filling of the canal. This can be difficult since the canal is very narrow and can require significant time and the enlargement of the canal using special tools. The time necessary for the completion of the root canal also depends on the particular tooth that is being worked on. This is because some teeth have a single root, while others have 2 or 3 roots. Over several sessions, the nerve may be killed and the canal may be cleaned by using special substances, sealed with the use of a temporary filling.
Finally, after the canal is cleaned the process of the root canal filling can begin. After the root canal is done, and it is confirmed that there are no lingering issues, we will apply a crown, and the tooth can continue functioning normally. It is important to care for the tooth and clean it regularly to maximize its survival rate and ensure it remains strong and healthy. Good dental hygiene that includes normal brushing, flossing and mouthwash is recommended and will ensure not only that teeth are maintained, but that further issues are prevented.
In the first few days after treatment, the tooth will be unusually sensitive, and it is recommended to avoid using it in mastication, as it could fissure or become infected again. If discomfort is felt by the patient, analgesic drugs may be used. Following the loss of dental pulp, heat sensitivity will diminish or disappear, without however otherwise affecting the patient’s health.
Root canals are very often successful at saving teeth and clearing infections. Teeth that have had a root canal performed on often survive for many years after, granted that they are properly cared for. If you would like more information, then please call us at South Austin Dental at (512) 441-8922, so we can get to work on saving your tooth.