Patients experiencing long-term dental pain often require treatment by a root canal specialist. Many clients cringe at the idea of a root canal. However, this important procedure can greatly reduce the amount of pain a patient experiences and is frequently essential to save a decaying tooth. When it comes to professional root canal therapy in Boca Raton, our specialists want each client to understand the process. Below, we’ve gathered the facts surrounding this procedure. Additionally, we outlined what each dental patient goes through before, during, and after a root canal.
What Is a Root Canal Procedure?
Despite being a relatively commonplace procedure, many patients don’t know what a root canal is or what purpose it serves. Typically speaking, your root canal specialist determines a root canal is necessary when you come to their office for experiencing excessive pain. The dentist or dental assistants will then take X-rays of your mouth and examine the tooth’s interior.
When a root canal is necessary, it’s often because the roots of the tooth have become inflamed or infected. In turn, the inflammation puts pressure on the nerve endings inside the tooth, which causes pain. The X-rays will show whether the tooth’s inner roots are infected or inflamed and act as a diagnostic tool that will allow the dentist to come up with a plan to treat the pain effectively.
During the procedure, your dentist will remove the infected or inflamed pulp in the roots and reshape the canals to prevent further problems. Then, they’ll use a liquid sealant to fill the empty spaces. Despite being a relatively simple process, this treatment often prevents the tooth from needing removal later in life.
The Root Canal Procedure Step by Step
The following information provides an approximate guideline to help patients better understand what takes place during root canal therapy. Clients should keep in mind that this is a general outline of the process. Dentists may choose to alter specific processes on a case-by-case basis.
Generally, the first step in diagnosing a root infection involves taking a series of X-rays. These images allow dentists and their assistants to examine the extent of the infection or inflammation. This important step gives the dentist the information they need to create a personalized treatment plan for each patient and to minimize pain and prevent abscesses.
During imaging, the dental assistant may require clients to hold or bite specific imaging hardware. Doing so allows clearer images of problem areas and ensures the dentist can accurately determine the issue.
Once done reviewing the images, the dentist will then inform clients of the work that needs completing. Some dentists may offer to perform these minor operations same-day, while others will require patients to schedule another appointment in the near future to have the work done. Given this type of treatment’s sensitive nature and urgency, most dentists will attempt to schedule the work same-day.
When ready to start, the dentist applies a local anesthetic to the gums. For individuals sensitive to the numbing treatment, the dentist may offer a topical numbing gel before injecting the local anesthetic in the root canal site. The dentist will then allow a few minutes for the numbing treatment to take full effect. For most patients, this takes anywhere from 15 to 20 minutes. However, patients may have to wait up to half an hour to achieve full numbness in some cases. Patients should communicate with their doctor regarding the anesthetic’s overall effect to ensure comfort during the procedure.
When ready, your dental assistant will apply a dental dam to the affected tooth and surrounding teeth. The tooth requiring a root canal protrudes through a small hole that allows the treatment to safely occur without potential contamination from bacteria found in the mouth.
At this point, the dentist will drill a small surface hole into the tooth or molar that allows access to the inflamed and infected root pulp. Typically, the dentist drills this hole into the molar’s biting surface or the back of one of the front teeth. The dentist can then extract the infected and inflamed root using a tool designed specifically for this purpose.
Once done clearing the infected pulp, the dentist will use tools to mold the canals carefully into the proper shape. The dentist then flushes the roots with an antiseptic wash to ensure no infected and inflamed pulp material remains. Washing the canals in this stage significantly decreases the chance of repetitive infection and abscesses.
When satisfied with the canals’ shape and cleanliness, the dentist utilizes root filler to seal the empty space inside the tooth. The filler takes the infected roots’ place and helps keep the tooth from rotting or becoming loose in the future. Unlike traditional sealant, this filler expands to fill the canal and provide a healthy interior for the tooth. The dentist uses a heating process to ensure the filler material, made of plastic, properly expands inside the canals.
Once the root canal process is complete, the dentist will seal the hole drilled to access the roots. It is important for patients to realize that they will need a crown or other permanent cap to restore their tooth’s exterior surface as a result of this process. Usually, these crows take several weeks to make, which will require a follow-up appointment. Many dentists will place a temporary crown until the permanent crown comes in.
Some dentists may opt for only a filling. However, studies suggest that root canals not sealed with a crown can become contaminated with bacteria found in the mouth. In turn, this can cause repeated infections, leading to tooth decay and abscesses. At its worst, repeated infections in a tooth may require the tooth to be pulled, which can create structural problems within the jaw. Therefore, many professional dentists agree that a crown is most effective in preventing these recurring issues.
Ultimately, many dental patients fear the unknown when considering a root canal. The process has a reputation for being uncomfortable at best and painful at worst. However, in the hands of a skilled dental professional, a root canal does not necessarily directly correlate with excessive pain or discomfort. In fact, clients find themselves in less pain a few hours after the procedure in many cases.
Patients who need root canal treatment may find themselves wary of the unknown. The overall process, though, is fairly straightforward and does not take long to complete. If you are experiencing excessive pain or swelling of the jaw directly around a tooth, you may need a root canal. Those who are unsure are encouraged to reach out today. Our clinic accepts emergency visits, meaning you can receive treatment for any pain or swelling as needed. Contact us today to start taking control of your dental journey and improve the overall health of your teeth.