Inside the solid enamel covering of a tooth is a soft center of tissue called the “pulp.” The pulp can become diseased or infected, and in addition to being painful, a risk is always present that the infection will spread. A root canal is a minor surgical procedure used to clean out the pulp to allow the infection to heal. Root canals are chair-side dental procedures.
Although some people may have no symptoms, most people who need a root canal complain of pain. The tooth may be very sensitive to cold or heat. In some cases, pus or other fluids can drain from the area around the tooth. Swelling and/or tenderness in the area is common, and the swelling may also extend to the glands of the neck. A fever may also occur. An examination and review of the symptoms can usually help a dentist determine whether a root canal is necessary.
An X-ray is usually the first step in a root canal. Then the dentist administers a local anesthetic and places a protective sheet called a “dental dam” around the tooth to keep saliva out of the area. Using a drill and very small instruments, the dentist makes a hole in the top of the tooth and cleans out any infected or damaged pulp. A special material called “gutta-percha” is used to replace the pulp, and the dentist places a temporary filling. The final step is a permanent crown, placed at a second appointment.
Routine oral hygiene, with daily flossing and twice-daily brushing, is necessary after a root canal. Some patients have no pain, while others experience minor pain that is usually managed with over-the-counter medications. Until the permanent crown is in place, the tooth is subject to breakage, so patients should be careful not to chew or bite on the affected tooth. After the permanent crown is in place, the patient should resume normal preventative care and cleaning.
At Nay Dental, we accept most major insurance plans. Please contact our office if you do not see your insurance provider listed.
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