A root canal is a necessary treatment for a cavity that’s made its way into the root or pulp of the tooth. It’s the last effort dentists and specialists use to save a tooth before extraction. Once the decay has eaten through the protective enamel, it reaches the vulnerable pulp and eventually attacks the root of the tooth.
This leads to pain and infection, plus swelling and sometimes an abscess. Infections and abscesses in the mouth don’t get better over time and can be very detrimental to the health of your heart and brain if left untreated. Treating a cavity with a root canal removes the decay, allowing dentists to treat the infection, and lets you save your tooth, avoiding extraction and the need for dental implants.
The Root Canal Process
Root canals are performed by specialists called endodontists. The process goes like so:
● The tooth and gum area are X-rayed to determine the scope of the infection.
● A dental dam is placed around the tooth to keep it clean and dry during the procedure. Root canals are performed with anesthesia, usually local, although rarely, some very severe cases may require general anesthesia.
● An opening in the crown of the tooth is made, allowing the root canal dentist access to the pulp and root. The decay in the enamel is removed, similar to filling a cavity, as well as the infected root and pulp.
● Once the decay is extracted, the area is prepared for filling.
● The root canals (the areas in the tooth where the roots were) are then filled with a biocompatible material called gutta-percha, a rubber-like substance that takes the place of the root and seals the canals.
● Often, a temporary filling is then inserted. Usually, the affected tooth and gum are swollen and infected, so this needs to be treated before the permanent filling is inserted.
● A couple of weeks later, you’ll return to your root canal dentist to have the permanent filling and crown fitted and placed, restoring the tooth to full functionality. You may also need a post placed in the tooth in order to hold the restorative piece (crown) in place.
Preventing the Need for a Root Canal
Preventing a root canal begins with good oral health habits. Brushing, flossing, and eating a diet low in sugar (this includes sodas and sweetened beverages like tea and energy drinks) help limit the production of plaque, the substance that causes tooth decay.
Regular visits to dentists also help prevent root canals, ideally every 6 months. This allows cavities to be treated while they’re small, before they get to the root of the tooth and necessitate a root canal.
Dental Specialists Here For You
When you have a swollen, infected tooth, it’s important to quickly find an experienced root canal dentist. These specialists can perform the delicate procedure and return your tooth to a healthy state.
The team at Dental Beauty is here to help our Bucks County, PA, friends and neighbors have a healthier mouth. We can gently perform your root canal, as well as other general dentistry services. Give us a call or visit us online to book your appointment today!