A root canal is a procedure used by dentists to save a tooth when it becomes damaged or infected. Since a root canal is often considered one of the scarier types of dental procedures a person can go through, if your dentist is recommending a root canal, you are no doubt feeling uneasy about the process. Understanding what the dentist will do ahead of time and how a root canal can help stop tooth pain, however, can help to alleviate your fears and make the process a little less stressful.
Getting to the Root of the Problem
As the name suggests, a root canal treats the root canals of a tooth as well as the pulp, or rather the center of the tooth. The pulp is a chamber of connective tissues and nerves. When something traumatic happens to a tooth, such as a crack or chip, the pulp tissues may become inflamed or infected and begin to swell. Since there is no place for the swelling to go, pressure continues to build inside the tooth and the tooth begins to hurt. Eventually, the damage to the tissues causes the pulp to die and the pain may actually lessen for awhile, only to return in the form of an infection as it spreads from the pulp down through the root canals to the bone where the root tips end.
What to Expect When Getting a Root Canal Procedure
You may expect a root canal to really hurt, but in reality, it's not much worse than getting a filling for a cavity. Before the treatment begins, the dentist applies local anesthesia to the affected tooth. This deadens the area and keeps you from feeling any pain. Once the area is sufficiently numb, the dentist performs a "pulpectomy" by opening the tooth and removing all the soft tissues in the pulp chamber and root canal. The area is thoroughly cleaned and medicated, filled with a rubbery substance known as gutta-percha, then sealed off with cement or by the placement of a crown.
Post-Care After Your Root Canal Procedure
After your root canal, your lips and gums may remain numb for a few hours. As the anesthesia wears off, it is not uncommon to feel a throbbing pain in the area where the root canal was performed. This may last a day or two. This pain is typically controllable with over-the-counter medications, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen, but your dentist may prescribe a stronger painkiller if needed.
Contact Cookeville DDS for more information or to schedule an appointment.
- Colgate: http://www.colgate.com/en/us/oc/oral-health/procedures/root-canals/article/ada-10-what-is-root-canal-treatment
- Post-care: http://www.webmd.com/oral-health/root-canal-treatment-18055
- Pulp: http://www.uky.edu/~brmacp/oralhist/module4/lecture/oh4lect.htm
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