If you’ve recently been told that you need a root canal, it’s understandable that you might be anxious about the root canal procedure itself. After all, root canal treatment doesn’t have particularly good press. Yet endodontic treatment as it is otherwise known is a very common, very safe and comfortable procedure, designed to alleviate pain and save a tooth.
So, to allay any fears or concerns you might have about root canal treatment, here’s a step-by-step guide to what you can expect.
Prior to treatment
When you arrive at your chosen dental clinic, your dentist should talk to you about your endodontic treatment and what you can expect. This is also your chance to ask any questions or get any concerns answered. Provided everything is good to go, your dentist will…
Step 1 – Perform a visual inspection and revisit any X-rays you might already have.
Step 2 – Administer a local anaesthetic to the problem area. At this point, you may feel a small pinch but no pain as the anaesthetic is administered. The numbing sensation should take effect pretty much immediately.
Step 3 – Place a dental dam (a small rubber sheet) over the affected site to protect and isolate the tooth. This helps to keep the tooth both dry and clean during the root canal procedure itself.
During root canal treatment
Endodontic treatment typically takes around 90 minutes. However, appointments can take longer if there are multiple problem teeth or multiple root canals that have been infected. Your dentist may even spread the treatment over several appointments if deemed necessary. Here’s what to expect during a typical root canal procedure…
Step 4 – Using a specially designed drill, the dentist will create a small aperture or opening in the top of the affected tooth. This should expose the inner tooth pulp containing the infected root canal or canals.
Step 5 – Next, the dentist will look to remove all infection from the root canal chamber
Step 6 – Once all the diseased or infected pulp has been removed, the dentist will thoroughly clean out the area and prepare the chamber for a filling. In most cases, this means widening the canal chamber using special dental files. Once fully widened, the area is irrigated with a special cleaning solution to eradicate any signs of infection.
Step 7 – Once the area has been fully dried, an anti-microbial medication is applied to the root canal to prevent the spread of infection. At this stage, the tooth may be left to drain for a couple of days especially if the infection is/was severe. If this isn’t necessary, the dentist will move on to the next stage.
Step 8 – This is where the canal is back-filled with a resin-like substance known as gutta- percha. This dries like a rubberised substance and effectively seals the chamber. This is a vital part of the endodontic treatment and is what prevents infection from re-entering the tooth chamber.
Step 9 – During the last and final part of the root canal procedure, a temporary filling is placed onto the tooth to provide added protection. In some cases, your dentist may skip this step altogether and immediately place a permanent crown onto the problem tooth during the same appointment.
After your root canal treatment
The good news is that your root canal treatment is now complete and you should no longer feel pain or discomfort. You will however need to pay close attention to your tooth for the next couple of days. After treatment, you should consider the following…
Step 10 – Avoid direct biting or chewing on the tooth until any numbness wears off. Hint – you may want to eat softer foods that are easy to chew.
Step 11 – Consider stocking up on over-the-counter pain relief if you experience any sensitivity or discomfort. You may also be prescribed a course of antibiotics to eradicate any remaining infection, so ensure that you take tablets when necessary and complete the course.
Step 12 – if you have a temporary crown you will need to revisit your dentist to have the permanent crown fitted. Sometimes a crown isn’t always necessary depending upon the position of the tooth in the mouth. Also, if the tooth has been badly damaged by infection, your dentist may utilise a metal or plastic post. This adds stability to any filling materials and/or your new crown.
Step 13 – After the permanent crown is fitted the problem tooth should now be able to provide healthy and normal functionality. Finally, after root canal treatment is complete you can treat it like the rest of your teeth.
Do remember to brush and floss regularly because it can still be prone to decay or gum disease and don’t forget to attend regular examinations and cleaning as prescribed by your dentist.
So there you have it… everything you need to know about a root canal procedure and what to expect. Root canal therapy is nothing to fear and consequently, you should be able to walk away from treatment feeling far better than when you went in.
If you would like to know more about root canal treatment and how you can save a tooth, call the team at Dental 266 and book for a consultation – You should never have to suffer from tooth pain or discomfort because we can help.
Call us at (02) 9051 0600 today.