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Dentistry At Somerset

Root Canal: The Art of Tooth Saving

 The infamous root canal: we’ve all heard of it and the horror stories that come along. Back 50 years ago, a root canal was a painful procedure that was avoided at all costs. Now a day, a root canal procedure is nothing like it was back 50 years ago. Advances in dental medicine have positively impacted the perception of root canal treatment, breaking down the misconception that it is an extremely painful and potentially dangerous procedure.

So, what exactly is a root canal?

Photo of decaying tooth

A tooth’s anatomy is more complex than we may expect; the inside of the tooth has two different canals and a soft, pink filling known as pulp. A root canal treatment is needed when the pulp inside the tooth becomes inflamed or infected. The pulp of a tooth contains its nerves and blood vessels, and as such people may automatically assume that its removal is an extremely painful process. Before the procedure occurs, precautions are taken to ensure that there is very little to no pain at all to the patient.

How do I know if I need root canal treatment?

An infection in the root canal can sometimes go undetected, however in most cases it is presented as pain during eating or when applying pressure to the area. It may also cause extreme sensitivity to hot and cold in the tooth even after the stimuli has been removed. Other signs include tenderness or swelling in the gums, a small, pimple-like bump on the gums near the problem tooth, and darkening of the tooth.

 How is a root canal procedure performed?

Photo of root canal treatment process
  1. The tooth and surrounding tissue are numbed using a local anesthetic.
  2. Your dental professional will section off the tooth using a rubber dam to protect it from the bacteria in your saliva.
  3. Next, using proper dental tools, an opening is made in the tooth and small instruments are used to access the tooth’s pulp.
  4. The tooth’s cavity is then cleaned and all of the pulp is removed to ensure that there is no remaining infection.
  5. After the pulp is removed and the tooth has been cleared to be filled, which may take a separate visit, the empty pulp chamber and the root canals are filled with a sealer paste and rubber compound. If a separate visit is required, your dental professional will insert a temporary filler into the cavity to protect your tooth.
  6. A dental filler is then inserted to ensure that the canals are protected from saliva.
  7. The final step of a root canal procedure is to either place a crown on the tooth or similar restoration method to provide complete protection to the tooth.

If you are experiencing tooth pain or think you may need root canal treatment, contact your dental professional as soon as possible.