Few words strike as much fear and anxiety in people as "you're going to need a root canal". If you look beyond the automatic reaction, however, you will find that much of the poor reputation for this procedure is just based on an old myth that refuses to die. In reality, this simple procedure should be no more uncomfortable than getting a filling. If you are about to undergo your first root canal, read below for more information that will hopefully help calm your fears and defeat your preconceived notions.
If a dentist (such as Jeffrey S. Thaller DMD) believes that you need a root canal, you likely have an infection or other damage to the inside of your tooth: the pulp. This area contains nerve and blood vessels, and an infection there can permanently damage your jaw bones and spread to other areas of your body, even to your brain.
What will happen in the procedure?
1. You will be given numbing injections into the gum, just like when you have a cavity filled.
2. Your tooth is isolated with a dental dam, a small flexible latex sheet, to prevent damage to the surrounding teeth and to keep the area being worked on dry from saliva.
3. A small hole is drilled into the tooth to allow the removal of the pulp and any decay. In your back teeth, the opening in usually on the top of the tooth, on your front teeth, the opening will be on the backside of the tooth.
4. Tiny instruments are used to shape a canal for the filling material to be inserted, taking the place of the infected pulp.
5. From time to time, your mouth will be irrigated with a small water sprayer to keep contaminants rinsed away.
6. The canal is filled with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha and sealed with a dental cement. At this point, you will most likely receive a temporary filling as the final step of the root canal procedure.
7. While the actual root canal is finished at this point, you will still need a permanent restoration. The temporary filling does not provide enough stability for sustained use, so the restoration should be done as soon as possible, usually within a week or two. This step is usually accomplished in a separate visit and involves either a permanent filling (for back teeth) or a crown (for front teeth).
This procedure may cause your gums to feel a little tender, but it should not be very painful. If you have had a filling done, you should know what to expect in regards to discomfort. This important tooth-saving procedure, should relieve your pain and keep you smiling.