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Do You Need a Root Canal?

No one really enjoys visiting the dentist and when a procedure like a root canal is mentioned it can fill people with a lot more trepidation than usual. In fact, carried out by a professional dentist, a root canal treatment is not as painful as many think and can help save a tooth that has been badly affected by decay.

What is a Root Canal Procedure?

Your tooth is made up of different elements from the hard enamel on the outside to the soft pulp that contains all the nerves and blood vessels at the very centre. When tooth decay gets down to those inner layers, people develop pain and require treatment from a dentist.

  • This is a surgical procedure and usually takes place over two or more visits. The work being done aims to clear out the decayed tooth matter and fill it with something else.
  • Your dentist will first take x-rays of the tooth so they have a clear idea of the level of decay and the work that needs to be undertaken.
  • They will use a local anaesthetic that essentially numbs the tooth and the surrounding gum. If you have lost all sensation in that area because of the decay, an anaesthetic may not be necessary.
  • A rubber dam is put around the tooth to protect it and keep it dry while the dentist opens the top part of the tooth, accessing the pulp underneath which will be removed.
  • The root canal itself is very narrow but the dentist will clean this out and enlarge it a little before it is left for a while and then filled in.

This process, as you might imagine is very intricate and requires a lot of skill. It may take several visits to work on a tooth as some have more than one root canal. Once the dentist has finished an appointment, they will place a temporary filling over the tooth to protect it. On your next visit, the tooth is opened up again and the canal is filled. Once the cleaning out is completed, the top of the tooth is covered with a normal filling. A crown can then be added to provide further protection.

When is Root Canal Work Carried Out?

Root canal work is usually carried out when the decay has reached the inner pulp of the tooth but there is still a chance of saving it. If the damage is too bad and can’t be remedied with root canal work, the dentist will usually look to remove the tooth.

What Can I Expect After Root Canal Work?

While this is a pretty invasive treatment, it’s not as bad as many people think. There can be some pain after the operation but there are a few methods for negating this.

  • For most people, it means taking an over-the-counter painkiller like Ibuprofen.
  • You’ll probably need to avoid chewing hard foods and anything that puts pressure on the tooth for a few days after the operation is completed.

This is a highly important and common operation that your dentist will often carry out. 90% of people should expect the root canal to keep their tooth safe for at least 8 to 10 years, longer if they practice good dental hygiene and avoid more sugary foods. While there can be some initial pain in the days following the treatment, this is usually quite manageable and fades after a few days to a week.