Some people freeze with fear when they hear that they need to book a dentist appointment for a root canal. But in reality there is no need to worry about the treatment; in fact you will be much better off if you book a dentist appointment quickly than if you leave the problem to develop.
When a tooth starts to decay, bacteria and other decayed debris can build up and cause an infection in the space inside the tooth – known as the root canal. Root canal treatment is a dental procedure that aims to save a badly decayed or infected tooth and the sooner you manage to have it done, the higher the chance of saving the tooth and avoiding the risk of spreading infection.
The root canal treatment itself is relatively simple. During the procedure, your dentist will remove the nerve and pulp from inside the tooth before cleaning and sealing it. While it can be a bit worrying to hear that a nerve is being removed, in this case its function is purely sensory and the function of the tooth will not be affected by the removal of a nerve.
The first step in the root canal treatment is to take an X-ray to determine exactly where the infection is within the tooth and to ensure that it hasn’t spread anywhere else. Once the infection has been isolated, the dentist can start to issue a local anaesthetic to numb the area, this ensures that you don’t feel any pain while the procedure is taking place.
Next, a damn, usually made of rubber or cotton, will be placed around the tooth to keep the area dry and free of saliva during treatment. Once the area has been prepared, your dentist will drill a small access hole into the tooth through which he or she will remove the pulp from inside the tooth. The dentist will ensure that all the bacteria, decayed tissue and related tissue is removed from within the tooth. Expect to feel some water being used at intervals to flush away the debris.
Once the dentist has cleaned out the tooth and ensured that there is no bacteria left, they will seal the tooth. In some cases, you will need to book a second dentist appointment in situations where your dentist wants to treat the infection inside the tooth to ensure that it has completely cleared up before sealing it permanently.
When it is time to seal the tooth, the interior of the tooth will be filled with a sealer paste and a rubber compound called gutta percha. A filling is then put over the access hole that was drilled at the first appointment.
In some cases you can expect to have to make an additional dentist appointment for restoration procedures, such as having a crown fitted, if the decay has weakened the tooth excessively.
Ask your dentist for more information on a root canal procedure as he or she will be able to advise in more detail regarding your specific situation.