Root Canals

Root Canals

Lots of people cringe when they hear the words “root canal.” Some people are so terrified of the prospect that they allow their teeth to deteriorate to the point where a dreaded root canal is inevitable. By that time, the tooth may not be able to be saved. But thanks to modern techniques, a root canal isn’t so dreadful.

People need root canal therapy when the decay in a tooth has spread to the roots and infected or inflamed it, a condition that can lead to extreme pain. If even this is ignored, an abscess, a pocket of pus in the jaw, can form or the tooth can be lost.

The Consultation

A patient who needs root canal therapy first has a consultation with the dentist, who takes their medical history and then X-rays the tooth in question. A dentist who specializes in injuries to the teeth is called an endodontist, and sometimes they study the X-rays sent to them by the patient’s family dentist. Family dentists often recommend their patients to specialists like endodontists.


Before the treatment, the patient is given a local anesthetic to numb the area to be treated. The anesthetic is injected via a needle and the dentist ay give the patient laughing gas as well. However, some people are terrified of even this step. In that case, they might have sedation dentistry. During sedation dentistry, the dentist may give the patient a drug to calm them the night before the surgery. This drug is often Valium. Because of this, the patient is already relaxed when they come into the dentist’s office the next morning. Then, the dentist gives the patient an anesthetic. The patient feels no pain, but is still awake and alert and can obey the dentist’s instructions.

Root Canal Therapy

After the patient is comfortable, the dentist removes the infected pulp, blood vessels, nerves and other tissue from the pulp chamber and canals in the root of the tooth. They then clean these structures with tiny brushes and fill them with a rubbery material called gutta percha. The gutta percha is held in place by dental cement. The dentist then puts a temporary filling in the tooth.

If the tooth can’t be saved, the patient is prepared for a dental implant. In this procedure, a titanium post is put into the patient’s jaw where the tooth was. A temporary crown is placed over the area. After some months, the bone of the jaw fuses with the post, and a crown is placed on it. This crown is usually made of ceramic, metal or ceramic and metal. Modern technology ensures that the crown matches the patient’s natural teeth in color, size and shape.

After the Surgery

Whether the tooth has been saved or not, the area is tender after the operation. The dentist prescribes analgesics and antibiotics to both ease the discomfort and prevent infection.

It’s important for the patient to keep follow-up appointments with their dentist. Eventually, a permanent filing is added to the tooth or the patient receives a dental implant.

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