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What Happens During a Root Canal?

As endodontists who have successfully handled thousands of root canal treatments, we seek to demystify the root canal procedure. Root canal therapy often evokes fear and uncertainty, but understanding the process can alleviate these concerns.

In this article, the professionals at Central Ohio Endodontics dive into what a root canal entails, from the initial signs to the step by step process involved, and numerous benefits root canal therapy offers. Prepare to gain valuable insight into this common dental procedure and put your worries to rest.

What Is a Root Canal?

A root canal is a specialized dental procedure designed to save a severely damaged or infected tooth. As experienced endodontists, we have witnessed the transformative effects of root canals in restoring oral health and preserving natural teeth.

The need for a root canal typically arises from deep decay, a cracked tooth, or an abscess. When the innermost layer of the tooth, known as the pulp (which is composed of nerves and blood vessels), becomes infected or inflamed, it can cause intense pain and compromise the tooth’s integrity. If left untreated, the infection can spread, leading to further complications.

Signs that may indicate the need for a root canal include persistent toothache, heightened sensitivity to hot or cold stimuli, gum swelling, and discolorations of the affected tooth. It is important not to ignore these symptoms, as they often signify underlying dental issues that require professional attention.

Before the root canal treatment begins, the endodontist will administer local anesthetic to ensure that the tooth is numb before working.  The more inflamed or infected a tooth is, the harder it is for the anesthetic to kick in, but endodontists have special training in managing these cases to ensure the patient is appropriately anesthetized before treatment.  As a result, there is not typically any pain involved with the procedure, and all that is felt is pressure and vibration.

During root canal therapy, the dental professional carefully accesses the pulp chamber by creating a small opening in the biting surface of the tooth. The infected or damaged pulp is then removed, and the root canals are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. To seal the treated tooth, a biocompatible material called gutta-percha, along with a biocompatible, antibacterial, and liquid cement type material called sealer is placed in the canals. The endodontist then places a temporary filling in the access, and the patient then returns to their general dentist to replace the temporary filling with a permanent filling, and a dental crown (if needed) for added protection and aesthetics.

The Root Canal Process

The root canal process is a meticulously executed procedure, carried out by skilled endodontists, to address severe tooth damage or infection. The following systematic approach aims to eliminate infection, alleviate pain, and safeguard the natural tooth.

Thorough preparation is essential to a successful root canal therapy. Prior to commencing the root canal, a comprehensive examination, including dental x-rays, is conducted to assess the extent of the issue. This crucial step allows the endodontist to develop an individualized diagnosis and treatment plan.

Once the preparation is complete, the endodontist administers local anesthetic to ensure the affected tooth is sufficiently numb.  The endodontist then carefully accesses the pulp chamber by creating a small, precise opening on the biting surface of the affected tooth. This enables them to reach the innermost part of the tooth that contains the infected or damaged pulp.

With access to the pulp chamber, the next step involves the removal of the infected or damaged pulp. This meticulous process ensures that all infected tissue is thoroughly eliminated from the root canals. Using specialized tools, the endodontist cleans and disinfects the canals, removing any bacteria or debris.

Following the cleaning process, the root canals are shaped to accommodate the filling material. This step is crucial for proper sealing and future restoration. The endodontist uses precise instruments to shape the canals, ensuring they are ready for the next stage.

Once the canals are cleaned and shaped, gutta-percha and sealer are used to fill them. Gutta Percha, a rubber-like material, is inserted into the canals, and they are coated with sealer, an antibacterial and biocompatible liquid cement-type material, to seal them and prevent reinfection. It provides a stable and secure foundation for the final restoration.

In many cases, a dental crown is placed by the general dentist on top of the treated tooth to provide strength, protection, and aesthetic appeal. The crown not only safeguards the tooth but also restores its appearance, ensuring a natural and seamless integration within your smile.

The Benefits of a Root Canal

Root canal therapy offers several key benefits, including pain relief, preservation of the natural tooth, restored chewing and biting function, improved oral health by preventing infection spread, and enhanced aesthetic appeal.

The First Choice for Root Canal Therapy in Ohio

We hope this exploration of the root canal process has helped alleviate any fears or concerns you may have had. Remember, modern dental techniques and technologies, combined with the expertise of experienced endodontists, have made root canals more comfortable and successful than ever before.

Maintaining good oral hygiene and seeking timely dental care are essential for a healthy, confident smile. Don’t let fear hold you back from receiving the care you deserve. Schedule a consultation with a qualified endodontist to discuss your specific needs.