A root canal is a dental procedure conducted to save or repair a tooth that is decayed, infected, or damaged. The treatment involves removing the soft center of the tooth, called the pulp, found below the tooth enamel and dentin. The pulp contains nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels that help with tooth growth.
Thus, damage to the pulp during the tooth’s developmental stage could hamper tooth growth. While the same does not apply to fully-grown teeth, the root canal procedure should, by no means, be neglected as the canal may get infected by bacteria infestation and lead to complete tooth decay.
The root canal procedure entails the removal and cleanup of pulp inside the tooth. Damage to the pulp can be caused by deep decay, a chip or crack on the tooth, injury to the tooth even if it is not chipped, or multiple dental procedures on the same tooth.
The nerve present in the canal is not crucial in a tooth’s health after it is completely developed. Its main function is to sense too hot or too cold conditions in the mouth. The absence of the pulp does not in any way affect how the tooth looks.
However, when the pulp or a tooth’s nerve tissue suffers trauma, it may start breaking down, and the bacteria inside the chamber begin to multiply in number, causing an infection. When the infection spreads to the root of the tooth, pus-filled pockets called abscess begins to form. If left untreated, there could be bone loss, and the swelling may spread to the face, neck, or head. Also, a hole may appear at the tip of the root leading to drainage to the gums, cheek, and skin.
The signs that indicate that you need a root canal treatment are as follows:
A root canal is conducted at a dental office by a general dentist or endodontist to preserve the structure of the tooth and involves the following steps:
Step 1: A local anesthetic will be injected into the gums to numb the area and prevent the sensation of pain during the procedure.
Step 2: The dentist will then make a small opening in the tooth, remove the damaged pulp, and clean out the canal.
Step 3: Then, antibiotics may be applied to the treated area to ensure complete removal of infection and to prevent infection in the future. The canal is then filled with a paste called gutta-percha (filling material). Oral antibiotics may also be given.
Step 4: Lastly, a sealant is used to fill the opening to prevent the root canal from getting damaged by saliva.
Root canal treatments are common dental procedures that dentists and endodontists take up on a daily basis. The anesthesia injected at the beginning of the procedure ensures the patient feels no pain. The feeling is no different from other dental procedures such as wisdom tooth removal or getting a cavity filled. After the procedure, you might feel slight soreness or numbness in the treated area and, in some cases, may also cause discomfort for a day or two.
If you have any signs that indicate your pulp is damaged and you may need a root canal treatment, call us at (703) 461-3000 and book an appointment with us today.
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