A common endodontic (or inner tooth) treatment, the root canal allows dental professionals to get beneath the white enamel and hard dentin layer of the tooth in order to address medical issues that occur in the tooth’s soft interior tissue called the pulp. Essential to general oral heath, the pulp contains connective tissue, nerves, and blood vessels that support overall tooth development.

What Medical Problems Do Root Canals Address?

Root canals become necessary when tooth pulp becomes infected and/or inflamed due to tooth injury or deep decay. If infected/inflamed pulp tissue is left untreated, it can ultimately result in debilitating pain or a dangerous pus-filled abscess.

The Root Canal Process

As described by the American Association of Endodontists, the root canal procedure is completed in four basic steps that ordinarily span two separate office visits.

The first step in the root canal process involves numbing the affected tooth with local anesthesia. Patients will typically feel a small pinch when the dental professional injects the anesthesia through a hypodermic needle. When the tooth is numb, practitioners may choose to install a dental dam around the affected tooth to isolate it from the rest of the mouth and keep it both clean and dry.

The dentist will then use a small drill to make an opening in the top portion of the tooth in order to access the inner tooth pulp. Using a series of small files, the dentist then removes damaged and diseased pulp from inside the tooth. Water may be used to wash away removed pulp, and an antimicrobial solution may be used to reduce the risk of further infection.

After allowing the clean tooth chamber to dry, the dentist proceeds to fill it with a rubbery material called gutta percha. To temporarily close the surgical opening in the tooth, a temporary filling will be applied.

The dentist will typically schedule a second appointment several weeks later to install a permanent crown or another form of dental restoration on top of the affected tooth. The dentist may also need to install small supports inside of the root chamber to ensure that the entire structure remains steady.

What to Expect from Your Root Canal

Thanks to modern anesthesia, patients typically experience no to little acute pain during the root canal procedure itself. After the anesthesia wears off, however, the affected tooth may feel tender and/or sensitive for several days and may continue to feel “different” than your other teeth for an extended period of time.

Pain will be particularly pronounced in patients who had experienced pain and/or infection prior to the root canal procedure. In any case, patients should contact your dentist immediately to address pain or pressure that persists for more than a few days.

For More Information

If you want to learn more about root canals, contact the world-class dental professionals at Arvada Dental Center. If you live in Arvada, Westminster, Wheat Ridge, or the greater western Denver Metro area, you can count on Arvada Dental Center for restorative, implant, and cosmetic dental services, as well as general family and preventative care. Contact us to schedule an appointment today.