If a dentist near you has recommended that you undergo a root canal, it’s because you’ve been diagnosed with a severe and threatening tooth infection. Root canals can eliminate that infection and eliminate the need to have that tooth pulled. Your dentist will tell you exactly what to expect, but here’s a step-by-step guide to root canals.
Your dentist’s first steps in performing root canal therapy in Wainwright will be to prepare the area to be treated. The preparation stage generally consists of several steps: completely numbing the area to be treated – gums, tooth and root alike – with a numbing agent so you’ll experience no pain; placing a dental dam (a type of barrier) in your mouth to isolate the tooth being treated from the rest of your mouth. This helps to keep the area being treated clean and dry and helps to prevent infected material from moving elsewhere in your mouth.
Accessing the inside of your tooth
You won’t feel a thing, but there’s no getting around the fact that this next stage sounds very intimidating. Your dentist will drill a small hole in your tooth so that they can access the inside of the tooth with tiny and precise instruments. Your dentist in Wainwright and their team will use those instruments to clean out the tooth’s pulp chamber and root canals with one goal in mind – to remove all infected material from that tooth. Once the material has been removed, your dentist will clean and disinfect the canals using antibacterial and antiseptic solutions.
Shaping your canals
The next step to undergoing root canal therapy near you is when your dentist reshapes the root canals in your tooth so they can be filled with the filling material. They won’t be left hollow, but can’t be filled until they’ve been reshaped and cleaned again once in the right shape.
Filling the canals
Once the reshaped canals have been cleaned again to ensure all infected material and bacteria have been removed, your dentist will fill the canals with a rubbery substance called gutta-percha. The gutta-percha will be placed, heated and compressed so that it fits snuggly before the tooth is sealed with an adhesive cement to keep bacteria out – permanently.
Closing up the hole
Remember when the dentist had to make a tiny hole in your tooth to access its interior? Your dentist will fill that hole for the same reason as the canals were filled and sealed – to make sure that bacteria that could cause another infection can’t get into that tooth. In a typical appointment, this is the last step of the root canal procedure – until your crown is placed. (We’ll get to that shortly.)
Antibiotics and after-care
Your dentist may give you a prescription for antibiotics to manage the risk of further infection. In some cases, your dentist may give you that prescription before you undergo your root canal and you might even start taking the medication before the procedure is performed. Whatever timing occurs in your place, be sure to take all medications as directed. Before leaving your dentist’s office after undergoing the previously discussed steps of your root canal therapy, your dentist will provide you with detailed aftercare instructions to ensure you recover fully and completely without any infection or other complications. Follow those instructions carefully, too.
Go back to your dentist
Your dentist may schedule a follow-up appointment to examine your teeth and gums and ensure you’ve recovered fully. Even then, though, there’s still one more step to take. Your dentist will prepare a dental crown that will be placed over and around your treated tooth like a thimble. That crown will act as a shield to protect the tooth and lend it strength so it can perform all its essential tooth functions (things like biting and chewing!) without falling prey ever again to bacteria.
No one looks forward to root canals, per se. But the good news about undergoing root canal therapy is this – at the end of it, you’ll be infection-free and your tooth will still be in place. As long as you take care of that tooth, you’ll never have to worry about replacing it.