Root canal treatment is an endodontic procedure used to clear infected pulp away from the pulp chambers and canals of a diseased tooth. Infections occur when bacteria are allowed to enter the pulp – often due to untreated decay or a crack in the tooth. During a root canal, the tooth is opened and the pulp removed. Biocompatible cement is used to fill the tooth before it is restored with a crown or other restoration.
Did you know… that endodontists perform an estimated 5.7 million procedures every year? Of those, the American Association of Endodontists reports that more than 4.2 million are root canal treatments. Despite the majority of those being widely successful, there are still several myths surrounding root canal treatment. For example, root canal treatments do not cause pain as rumored; they relieve it. Similarly, extracting a diseased tooth is not a better alternative to root canal treatment, as keeping as much of your natural tooth as possible should be the treatment goal of you and your dentist.
Do I need root canal treatment?
You may need a root canal if tooth decay or a broken tooth has allowed the pulp to become infected and inflamed. Signs and symptoms to watch out for include temperature sensitivity, swelling, drainage, odor, pain, and discoloration of the tooth. It is important to treat infections quickly, as delaying treatment can result in severe tooth pain and abscess.
What should I expect to happen during my root canal?
Your endodontist will numb your tooth with a local anesthetic and administer analgesia if needed. Once the tooth is numb, an opening will be made in the top of your tooth to access the canals. Your endodontist will use tiny instruments to remove pulp from your tooth and prepare it to be filled. You will return at a later date to have your root canal capped with a crown or other type of restoration that will give it the appearance and function of a natural tooth.
Will I need to follow any post-operative instructions following my root canal treatment?
You will be allowed to drive yourself home from your root canal visit and may even wish to return to work the same day. However, it is normal for your tooth to be sensitive in the days following your procedure. You’ll need to avoid biting anything with your filled tooth, as this can cause it to break or fracture. So long as the tooth heals normally and you experience no complications, you can return to your endodontist within a month to have a crown or other restoration placed on the tooth.