Nothing looks, functions, or feels like your natural teeth, and with great care, any smile can last for a lifetime. However, problems like injury, decay, or disease can threaten teeth and ruin beautiful smiles. Thanks to advancements in dental care, many ailing teeth can now be saved.

One of the popular ways teeth can be saved is by going through a root canal treatment. Also referred to as endodontic treatment, a root canal is a treatment used to save and repair teeth that are badly decayed or become infected. Endodontics is a specialized area of dentistry focused on treating injury or disease to the dental pulp.

When a tooth’s pulp or nerve tissue is damaged, bacteria begin to multiply within its pulp chamber. This may cause an infection that may spread to the surrounding tissue causing pain and swelling around the tooth. Endodontists are dental specialists with advanced training in root canal treatment who use special equipment and techniques to treat you quickly and comfortably.

What Happens During Root Canals? A root canal may require one or more office visits depending on the extent of the infection or complexity of the procedure. First, the endodontist numbs the patient’s tooth using local anesthesia so that they are more relaxed and at ease. Then, to keep the area clean and free from saliva during treatment, the dentist places a sheet of rubber around the tooth. An opening is drilled through the crown of the tooth and into the pulp chamber. The pulp together with the decayed nerve tissue, bacteria, and related debris are all removed from the tooth. Root canal files are used during this cleaning out process. A series of files with increasing diameter are subsequently worked down the length of the tooth to scrub and scrape the sides of the root canals.

Next, water or sodium hypochlorite is used to rinse out any remaining debris and kill bacteria. Once the tooth is cleaned thoroughly, it is sealed. Some endodontists like to wait a week before sealing particularly when they want to be sure there is no infection. In this case, a temporary filling is placed in the tooth to protect it from any contaminants like food particles in between the appointments. Others may choose to seal it the same day it’s cleaned out. To fill the tooth’s interior, a rubber compound known as gutta-percha and a sealer paste are placed in the root canal. A filling is then placed on the crown to fill the exterior access hole. How painful is a Root Canal? Root canal procedures have a reputation for being painful. However, most who have had a root canal say the procedure is no more painful than placing a filling. What to expect after a root canal Following the completion of your root canal, the tooth may be a lot more sensitive for the first few days due to natural tissue inflammation, particularly if there was an infection or pain before the procedure. The sensitivity or discomfort can be controlled using over pain medication. After the procedure, most patients can return to their normal activities in a day.