You've probably heard of people having to get a root canal at the dentist. Maybe you have even gotten one yourself. But what exactly is a root canal? Here's what you need to know about this common dental procedure.
What Is the Root Canal?
Inside each tooth, there is a long, narrow chamber that runs from the tooth all the way down to the tip of the root that anchors each tooth in your gum. When a tooth becomes decayed, that canal area fills up with debris and bacteria.
Why Is a Root Canal Performed?
When the canal is packed full of decay and bacteria, the tooth can become infected. A root canal is done in done in an attempt to save the decaying, infected tooth rather than having it extracted.
What Is Done During a Root Canal Procedure?
There are several steps to a root canal, and most of the time, the procedure cannot be completed in one visit.
The first step is taking an x-ray to determine where the root in the tooth and exactly where the infected and decayed area is. Once the dentist has located the canal, the anesthetic is injected into your gums in preparation for the procedure.
While the dentist is waiting for anesthetic to spread throughout the gum area and take full effect, he or she will work on building a rubber damn around your tooth. This is to help keep saliva out and keep the tooth as dry as possible while he works on it.
Next, the dentist will drill a small hole into your tooth at the area the x-ray identified as having the pocket of infection. Because the bacteria inside your tooth has caused decayed, there may be an unpleasant odor and taste in your mouth as the dentist works to remove the pulp and clean it all out.
This procedure can take time as the dentist must be sure all debris is removed before sealing the tooth back up. He or she will also need to periodically use the water jet to wash the debris away. The dentist will likely give you antibiotics to treat the infection, and schedule your second appointment.
Once the dentist is 100 percent certain there is no residual bacteria in the root canal, the canal and the hole in your tooth will be filled with a rubber cement material, and then the tooth will be sealed.
If you have more questions about root canals, talk to a dentist like those at Belgrade Dental Associates.