The Root Canal Procedure: Everything You Need To Know

Ask any dentist what their primary concern is when treating patients, and they’re likely to tell you that it’s to preserve their patients’ natural teeth at all costs. Sometimes all that requires is filling a small cavity or conducting some simple bonding on a chipped tooth, while other times it can take a more complicated procedure, such as root canal therapy.

The root canal has acquired a reputation over the years as the last procedure you want your dentist to recommend, but modern techniques and advances in technology have actually made it far simpler and less disruptive than ever before. The truth is that a root canal can be the very thing that saves your smile when you’re in danger of losing a tooth.

If you’re interested in learning more about the root canal procedure, take a look through this simple guide. It explains exactly what a root canal is, describes the steps of the procedure, and answers a few common questions, such as, “how long does a root canal take?”

What is a root canal procedure?

A root canal is a dental procedure designed to save a tooth that has become infected. The procedure involves the drilling of a small hole into the tooth so that your dentist can access the infected dental pulp, remove it, clean out the various canals of the inner tooth, and then refill it with a biocompatible material called gutta-percha.

The Dangers of Ignoring a Tooth That Needs a Root Canal

Nobody likes dealing with dental procedures, and some of us really dread them. If you suffer from dental anxiety and you’re thinking that you’d rather just skip the root canal and deal with the tooth pain, consider the following:

It won’t heal on its own.

Unfortunately, once a tooth has become infected, time is not a legitimate remedy other than to remove the infected material. Interestingly enough, you may experience some tooth pain relief in time, but the infection will remain, and that leaves the door open for some serious health issues.

You may lose the tooth.

One of the few other options when it comes to treating an infected tooth is extraction. This method of treatment is not only likely to be more uncomfortable than the root canal procedure, but it will also leave a gap in your mouth which can open you up to further oral health complications, such as bone loss.

You can potentially replace your extracted tooth with a dental bridge or dental implant, but neither of these is as strong or durable as your natural tooth, even after it’s undergone a root canal procedure.

It can lead to other medical issues.

Root canals are about more than just tooth pain relief. If you ignore an infected tooth, the infection can spread into other parts of your mouth and cause a host of medical issues, including dental abscesses

Dental abscesses are pus-filled sacs in your gums that can lead to detrimental damage in the body, causing anything from a heart attack to blood clots to a stroke to sepsis.

The Root Canal Procedure

Hopefully, you now have a better idea of just how important it is to address a tooth infection. If you’ve decided that the way you’re going to do that is with root canal therapy, you can expect the following:

First, you’ll receive a local anesthetic to numb the area. You may also receive something to help you feel more relaxed, such as nitrous oxide or an oral sedative.

Next, you’ll have a dental dam placed over the affected area in order to isolate the tooth.

Then, your dentist will drill a small hole in the tooth in order to access the infection. Once they’ve done that, they’ll begin to remove the infected dental pulp and then clean and disinfect the various tiny canals that make up the inner tooth.

Finally, when the infection is totally removed, your dentist will fill the tooth with a safe, rubbery material known as gutta-percha and seal it off.

For some visual detail on how a root canal is performed, check out our educational videos page.

Root Canal Recovery

Recovering from your root canal should take a little under a week. You can expect to feel some mild discomfort that can be treated with some over-the-counter painkillers or possibly prescription medication. If the pain is significant or lasts longer than a week or so, reach out to your dentist.

How long does a root canal take?

The root canal procedure is a relatively fast one. It can be completed in somewhere between 30 to 60 minutes on average. It’s also a highly effective one, with a success rate greater than 97%.

Dental Crowns with Primescan

There are times when a root canal procedure requires a dental crown to be placed on the treated tooth in order to give it extra support and protection. At Metro East Dental Care, we can create that crown using our Primescan digital scanner. 

Primescan creates digital impressions of your mouth that are highly detailed and accurate and do not require any uncomfortable goop, which is helpful for those who are prone to gagging.

Need a root canal?

Tooth pain can be a tough thing to deal with and an infection can be dangerous… but our dental team is here for you! We’d love nothing more than to help restore your comfort and quality of life. 

Call Metro East Dental Care today or use our easy online form to schedule your appointment.