What Is a Root Canal?
A root canal is a safe, effective procedure that is used to treat teeth whose pulp has become inflamed or infected. Root canals can also be used to save or restore teeth in other situations.
To help ensure that your root canal is as painless as possible your dental team will treat your tooth with a local anesthetic before the procedure, and can prescribe or recommend an appropriate pain medication for you to take until any residual discomfort subsides. As long as your pain is properly managed you should experience only minimal discomfort.
The best way to avoid having to get a root canal is to take proper care of your teeth and gums. This can be done by brushing your teeth at least twice per day, flossing at least once per day, and visiting your dentist every six months for a dental exam and cleaning.
How Are Root Canals Performed?
A root canal involves removing damaged or infected tissue (called pulp) from inside the root and crown of your tooth. First, your dentist will use a drill to make a small hole in your tooth so that they can remove the infected or damaged tissue. Once this newly formed void (called the canal) is disinfected and shaped your dentist will fill the canal with a natural, rubber-like material called gutta percha, which seals the canal and keeps bacteria and food particles out.
Once your root canal is done your dentist will seal the opening in your tooth, either temporarily or permanently, with a crown. This prevents the tooth from becoming reinfected.
If your dentist fits you with a temporary crown, it is imperative that you return for your follow up appointment to receive your permanent crown. Temporary crowns are not as durable as permanent crowns and are not designed to stand up to long term wear and tear.
A damaged crown leaves your tooth vulnerable to reinfection.