When a tooth root becomes infected by bacteria, a root canal treatment may be recommended to remove the infected tooth tissue. While some may fear this procedure, the truth is there is more to worry about in the consequences of not receiving a necessary root canal than of getting one in the first place. Failing…
Root Canal Therapy FAQs
According to the American Association of Endodontics, root canal therapy was first performed as early as the 1860s. Every year, millions of people have this treatment to save diseased teeth. However, the AAE also cites that having a root canal ranks among the population's worst fears. Much of the fear comes from not understanding what happens during the procedure. When patients understand what to expect, they can make informed decisions about their oral health.
3 common questions about root canal therapy
There are certain questions that dentists hear repeatedly about root canal therapy. Patients wonder why the treatment is necessary, what to expect during the procedure, and what to expect afterward. These are simple questions to answer that can help reduce apprehension about the procedure itself. Before committing to the treatment, patients should have a clear understanding of the root canal process. The patient and dentist should discuss the procedure beforehand so the patient can ask questions and voice concerns.
1. When is a root canal needed?
Patients often wonder why they need a root canal and why a less invasive treatment such as a filling is not an option. Root canal therapy is needed when a tooth has decay that has reached the pulp of the tooth; this is where the tooth's nerve is. Filling material causes irritation if placed too close to the pulp, so that restoration is no longer an option. Root canal treatment is sometimes necessary for broken or cracked teeth that are causing pain. This treatment is also used for abscessed teeth.
2. What happens during a root canal?
During a root canal, a dentist may use a device known as a rubber dam to keep the tooth dry. Once the tooth is properly isolated, the dentist removes the nerve of the tooth. Then, a rubber-like material called gutta percha is used to fill the empty canals. This material is biocompatible, meaning the body does not reject it. Once the gutta percha is secure, a temporary filling is placed and light-cured. The dentist can adjust the tooth so it is comfortable for the patient's bite.
3. What care is required after the appointment?
After root canal therapy, the patient may experience soreness around the treated tooth. The jaw may be sore as well from opening wide during the appointment. An ice pack may help to reduce soreness and swelling after the procedure. The patient should choose a diet of soft foods until the soreness goes away.
The patient will need to return to the dentist in a few weeks to have a dental crown placed on the tooth. Because a root-canaled tooth has no blood supply, it is more brittle and prone to breaking. The placement of a sturdy crown is important to fully restore the tooth.
When patients understand root canal treatment, the procedure may not seem as daunting. For patients in need of this type of treatment, schedule an appointment with a dentist today.
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