For most people, the word 'root canal' is not something they want to hear from the dentist. The procedure is pretty common though, and if it is done right, it does not have to be painful and something to be afraid of. Once it is complete, any pain you had from the tooth in question should be gone for good.
Reasons for a Root Canal
The most common reason for a root canal is to remove inflamed and infected tissue inside the tooth. Typically, the tissue called the pulp becomes infected because of a deep cavity in the tooth, and if it is not removed, it will break down and cause bacteria to grow inside the tooth. The result is a badly abscessed tooth and typically a nasty infection that will require antibiotics to resolve. If the root canal is not performed, the tooth will continue to be a problem, and the infection will reoccur.
The root canal procedure is pretty straight forward. The dentist will drill a hole in the bad tooth and remove the pulp and the nerve from the tooth completely. The nerve is not needed, and the pulp is there to support the nerve so can be completely cleaned out of the tooth. Once all the pulp and the nerve are removed, the dentist will seal the tooth to protect it and will it so that it still has a strong structure and does break later. A hollow tooth would not hold up, so it is critical that the area where the pulp was has material to fill the void.
The dentist may install a temporary cap on the tooth to hold it all together. The cap goes over the outside of the tooth and acts like support walls around the tooth until the permanent crown goes on. The dentist will send you home with pain medications and you need to be careful and eat soft foods for a couple of days. It is normal for your jaw to be sore for a few days, but the pain medication will help with that.
Finishing the Procedure
After the tooth heals, the dentist will remove the temporary cap and place a permanent crown on the tooth. The dentist will finish the tooth restoration on this final visit and once it is complete, you can eat and chew like you always have. Let the dentist know if you have extreme pressure, pain, or swelling after the procedure, but in most cases, the tooth will last for years after the root canal is finished.
For more information about root canal treatment, contact your local dental office.