If tooth decay is left untreated, it can quite literally kill your tooth. Your tooth is comprised of many layers, starting with the enamel. The hardest material in your entire body, the enamel protects your tooth from decay, but once it becomes compromised, your dental pulp becomes vulnerable to infection. Many people are surprised to discover that their teeth are living organs, but they truly are; the pulp is a network of blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue, and once bacteria attack it, there's a chance you could lose your tooth. A root canal is a routine procedure that we do here at Wendy Sanger DMD Cosmetic + Family Dentistry to remove the dead tissue inside your tooth and save your tooth from requiring removal.
What to Expect During a Root Canal
If you've been told that you require a root canal, don't be alarmed. A root canal is an extremely common procedure, generally is pain-free, and can help save a severely infected tooth. It's normal to have several questions about the procedure, however, and we're here to help answer them for you.
Because it is such an intensive procedure, and many people simply do not like to lay there with their mouths open for so long, we occasionally spread the procedure over two appointments. Here's what you can expect when you have a root canal at our office:
|First, we will completely numb the area with local anesthesia. You will notice there is a slight sting when the needle administers the numbing medicine.
|Next, we will isolate the tooth with a dental dam, which allows us to focus on the infected tooth and keep it clean and dry.
|Using a fine drill and small files, we will enter your tooth by creating an opening on the top. The files will allow us to access the infected pulp and carefully remove it. If necessary, we may use topical antibiotics on the site.
|Once all the infection is removed from your tooth, we will close the hole with a material called gutta-percha, which is a rubbery substance that acts as protective filling. Next, we will put a filling over the gutta percha to seal it. Lastly, after a few weeks, we will finalize your root canal by putting a crown over your tooth.
A small amount of discomfort after a root canal can be expected and remedied with over-the-counter NSAIDs. However, severe pain after this procedure is not common; if you experience it, or a fever or any other signs of infection, give us a call right away.
There are some misconceptions about root canals, causing hesitation in many of our patients who might benefit from having this procedure done. For instance, some people worry about having a "dead" tooth.
The reality is that a root canal can help preserve your tooth for the rest of your life. The tooth may become more brittle because it isn't receiving nutrients any longer from the pulp, but it is still a functional tooth, and a root canal can help prevent any issues that can arise from having a gap between your teeth. A remarkable 95% of root canals are considered a success, making this a highly recommended procedure for our patients.
Good oral hygiene habits and routine dental exams are key for a long-lasting, beautiful smile, but if you do have severe tooth decay, a root canal is a good option to help save it. For more information about root canals, or to schedule a dental exam with cleaning, please give us a call here at Wendy Sanger DMD Cosmetic + Family Dentistry at (908) 647-4441.