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What Is A Root Canal

Root canals are probably one of the most feared procedures in the dental sphere, which is unfortunate given that their reputation is from an age before dentistry advanced to making the procedure both painless and easy.  Recent innovations in root canal technology have made this endodontic procedure as routine as receiving a filling, and far less painful than living with a rotting tooth in your mouth.  


Do I Need A Root Canal?

Root canals are typically necessary when the core of a tooth has been exposed through decay or trauma and become infected or inflamed, and often is found associated with an abscess.  When a tooth is in need of a root canal they are often painful and have angry red and swollen inflammation of the gums.  In cases where an abscess is present, there may even be a bubble on the side of the gums indicating the presence of a pocket of infection.


How Is A Root Canal Done?

These procedures are fairly routine and start the same as any other dental treatment does, a consultation with your dentist. During the consultation, they’ll do a full exam of your teeth, typically including imaging to see the interior condition of your teeth.  After the tooth or teeth that need to be treated are identified they will schedule the first of your appointments to treat the root canal and repair the tooth.


The steps involved in a root canal are:

  • Reexamination: Prior to the procedure you’ll go have an exam with your dentist that includes a consultation. Once the present condition of the teeth has been determined a dental dam will be placed.
  • Preparation of the Tooth: Using a special set of tools your dentist will begin to clean and shape the tooth in preparation for the filling. Infected root and pulp material will be removed.
  • The Tooth Is Repaired: The now clean tooth will be filled with gutta-percha, a material that has a rubbery consistency and is biocompatible.  A temporary crown is then placed.
  • Follow-Up Visits: Follow up visits will be necessary to ensure the success of the root canal and the placement of a permanent crown.


In some cases, the tooth will lack the structure to properly support the restoration and a post will be placed to strengthen the tooth to ensure the restoration will last your lifetime.


What Will Happen At Future Visits?

Given the fairly routine nature of the root canal, there will likely not be any need for a return specifically for the procedure after the follow-up.  Regular dental visits will include an inspection of all existing dental work, including the root canal.  Root canals are durable and can last for the rest of your life, requiring only a return to healthy oral care and regular flossing.  Your newly restored tooth will function in all ways like your natural teeth and will restore comfort and a handsome appearance to your smile.  If you think you may need a root canal contact your dentist for a consultation.