Like most things, the biggest fear is the fear of the unknown and this is certainly the case when it comes to a root canal. Just those very words are often enough to send a cold shiver down the spine of even the most courageous of people. Yet, it needn’t do…
You see, root canal treatment, or rather, endodontic therapy as it is technically called, is a treatment designed to get you out of pain while protecting and/or saving the problematic tooth. But somehow the procedure has been painted in a bad light and this leads to many people becoming (unnecessarily) fearful of the process. So, with this in mind, the team at Beyond 32 Dental are going to talk you through the root canal treatment process step by step.
Hopefully, at the end of this post, you’ll realise that root canal treatments are designed to get you out of pain, not cause it. In addition, they really are nothing to worry about. So here goes…
Step 1 – The consultation
By now you’ve probably been told that you need a root canal and you’ve been booked in for a consultation. This may be with your regular dentist or with a specialist endodontist. Either way, this is your chance to ask questions like “what is a root canal?” “how it will benefit me?” and… “what needs to be done?” During this process, your dentist will explain how the process works and what you can expect both during and after the procedure.
They may even show you a diagram of an infected tooth and explain how the infection is removed from the dental pulp in order to save a tooth. Whatever the procedure, you should at least leave the consultation with a clear understanding of what a root canal is and how this type of endodontic treatment can help you.
Step 2 – Tooth isolation
The next stage of the process is carried out chair-side. So once the area has been gently numbed, the tooth needs to be isolated. This is important because the fundamental goal of any root canal therapy is to remove all remnants of infection from the tooth.
The problem is that our saliva can be a great source of bacteria and debris so it needs to be stopped from coming into contact with the infected tooth. This is done using a rubberised dam (usually latex in most cases) which is pulled over the tooth so that the tooth pokes through.
Patients should feel no discomfort apart from some slight pressure of the clamp as it holds the rubber damn in position.
Step 3 – Creating an access cavity
Once the dentist is happy that the tooth is fully isolated and you are comfortable they will need to create an access cavity. The process itself is pretty straight forward in that they will simply drill down into the tooth. This is done so that that the infected tooth (root) canal is located and all you should feel are gentle minor vibrations.
Step 4 – Cleaning and shaping
Once the infected root canal has been exposed, the next stage of the root canal treatment process involves the removal of all bacteria and debris from the root canal chamber. This is done using one or more root canal files.
Files are used to gently scrape and clean the walls of the canal removing any debris in the process. The interior of the tooth is then rinsed out using a harmless disinfecting solution. Once the canal chambers are clear of infection, a variety of dental files are then used to gradually enlarge the contours of the canal. This is so that the next stage of the process can be carried out.
Stage 5 – Back-filling and sealing
Once the dentist is happy that all contaminants and infections have been removed and the tooth chamber is clean, the next step is to back-fill the chamber. This is usually done using a rubberised material known as gutta-percha. Once the various canals have been filled they are then sealed off. Finally, an x-ray is taken so that work can be evaluated and documented.
Stage 6 – Placing a temporary filling
The final stage of the root canal process (for now at least) is to fit a temporary crown. This is designed to protect the tooth for a couple of weeks until the permanent crown is made. Once the temporary crown is fitted, you should be good to leave.
Stage 7 – Permanent crown fitting
After several weeks, the dentist will call you back to complete your root canal treatment. This involves carefully removing the temporary crown and replacing it with your permanent crown. Modern dental crowns are lifelike and durable, so provided that they are cared for correctly, they should last you for many years to come.
That’s it, any discomfort is gone and you have a newly restored tooth.
On the whole root canal therapy takes 1-2 appointments of around 90 minutes each and is a comfortable treatment designed to get you out of pain. For further information, call the Beyond 32 Dental team. We’re your trusted dentist in Cherrybrook.