For some people, root canal therapy is associated with excruciating pain and anxiety. However, the pain you feel is usually caused by an infection or injury in the tooth, not the root canal treatment itself. On the contrary, root canal therapy also known as endodontic therapy is performed to eliminate pain.
A root canal procedure is painless during the procedure due to modern medicine. The procedure is performed when the nerve or blood supply of the tooth is infected.
When Do You Need Root Canal Therapy?
A brief background on the structure of the tooth should help us understand the root canal system. First we need to know about the pulp chamber. It is that space in the tooth that houses the pulp (the living tissue that keeps the tooth alive) and the root canal. It comprises of connective tissues, nerves, and blood vessels. Therefore, when it’s infected, the infection may spread throughout the root canal causing pain commonly felt as a toothache.
Infections are caused by tooth decay, traumatic damage such as a crack, or repeated dental treatments. Any of these causes may lead to acute inflammation known as an abscess. An abscess forms when tissues in the tooth swell. Symptoms of an abscess range from a mild to severe toothache to irreversible damage to the pulp. If root canal therapy is not done, the pulp may die, or other chronic infections like gum disease may arise. Our South Philadelphia dental colleagues at Philly Dental Arts inform us of a similar trend in their part of the world. They said because of the fear of dental treatment, many of their patients put off visiting the dentist which often creates a much worse situation. If that sounds like you perhaps you should consider our sleep dentistry procedure which is perfect for patients who suffer from anxiety around dental visits.
What Happens During A Root Canal Operation?
A root canal treatment is performed by an endodontic surgeon – A dentist well-versed in diagnosis and management of dental infections. Before a root canal treatment, a background check is done to determine the cause of pain which usually includes an x-ray of the patient’s teeth. If you’re nervous, an oral sedative may be administered before treatment. Here is a step by step guide that will help you understand what to expect during a root canal therapy procedure.
Local Anaesthesia is Administered.
Once you are sedated, an anaesthesia is administered to numb the tooth being treated. Where the pulp in the tooth has acute inflammation, it may take a few more minutes to numb this area. Note that your dentist can’t start the procedure before the treatment area is numb.
Dental Dam is Put in Place
A dental dam is a sheet (thin) of rubber placed over the affected tooth. It is used to isolate it from the rest of the mouth.
Access Hole Drilled
A small access hole is then drilled via the biting surface of the affected tooth. The hole allows access to the root canal and pulp chamber for treatment. The infected pulp is then removed using special equipment. Note that the entire procedure is not painful since the area is numb. When the pulp and nerves are removed, the patient will no longer feel pain that tooth.
Root Canal Filling
The root canal is first disinfected and then shaped to receive root canal fillings. The fillings have to be carefully selected to fit into the freshly prepared channel. Root canal sealing prevents re-infection of the tooth in the future. A permanent or temporary sealing material is then placed into the access hole and the dental dam removed.
Sometimes, a tooth may lack the adequate structure to hold filling in place. In such cases, the dentist places a durable plastic material in the root canals to keep it in place. A dental crown is then positioned to prevent recontamination. You may feel slightly sore after treatment. But it quickly disappears in a couple of days.
Clearly, there’s no need to be apprehensive about root canal therapy. Plenty of folks are only anxious because they lack information about root canal treatment procedures. At Chandler Dental we believe knowledge creates confidence in patients since they know what to expect thus eliminating fear. This is why we always take the time to explain our work in full. If you have any further questions about root canal treatments or would like to book a dental consultation please contact us.