WHAT IS A ROOT CANAL?
Root canal treatment is designed to eliminate bacteria from the infected root canal, prevent reinfection of the tooth and save the natural tooth. When one
undergoes a root canal, the inflamed or infected pulp is removed and the
inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed.
WHAT HAPPENS DURING ROOT CANAL TREATMENT?
There’s no need to be worried if your dentist prescribes a root canal procedure to treat a damaged or diseased tooth. Millions of teeth are treated and saved this way each year, relieving pain and making teeth healthy again.
Inside your tooth, beneath the white enamel and a hard layer called dentin, is a soft tissue called pulp. This tissue contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue, which help grow the root of your tooth during its development. A fully developed tooth can survive without the pulp because the tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it.
A modern root canal treatment is nothing like those old sayings! It’s very similar to a routine filling and can usually be completed in one or two appointments, depending on the condition of your tooth and your personal circumstances. Getting a root canal is relatively painless and extremely effective. You’ll be back to smiling, biting and chewing with ease in no time.
Saving the natural tooth with root canal treatment has many advantages:
Normal biting force and sensation
Protects other teeth from excessive wear or strain
WHAT SHOULD ONE EXPECT AFTER THE ROOT CANAL?
For the first few days following the completion of a root canal, the tooth may feel sensitive due to natural tissue inflammation, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. This sensitivity or discomfort usually can be controlled with over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). Most patients can return to their normal activities the next day.
Until your root canal procedure is completely finished — that is to say, the permanent filling is in place and/or the crown, it’s wise to minimize chewing on the tooth under repair. This step will help avoid recontamination of the interior of the tooth and also may prevent a fragile tooth from breaking before the tooth can be fully restored.
ALTERNATIVES TO A ROOT CANAL
Saving your natural teeth is the very best option, if possible. Your natural teeth allow you to eat a wide variety of foods necessary to maintain proper nutrition. The root canal procedure is the treatment of choice.
The only alternative to a root canal procedure is having the tooth extracted and replaced with a bridge, implant, or removable partial denture to restore chewing function and prevent adjacent teeth from shifting. These alternatives not only are more expensive than a root canal procedure but require more treatment time and additional procedures to adjacent teeth and supporting tissues.