When you have had a dental infection or have suffered trauma to a tooth that is extensive, your dental team may advise that you have a root canal.
Despite this treatment’s history of saving teeth, it is very unpopular, with many dental patients preferring to have their infected teeth removed.
But if you want to preserve your smile, a root canal is going to be the best option for you. So, read on to learn a bit more about the process through this short FAQ section answered by a dentist in Tunbridge Wells.
Why would I need a root canal fitted?
A root canal will usually be needed if you have had a tooth that has been infected or inflamed in the pulp. This can happen for multiple reasons, such as deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or even a crack or chip in the tooth, or a traumatic injury to the tooth.
How is a root canal procedure performed?
During the first visit, your dental team will numb the area with a local anaesthetic. They will then make an opening in the top of the tooth and, using small instruments, will remove the infected or inflamed pulp. The inside of the tooth will then be cleaned to remove any remaining bacteria. Once the tooth is cleaned, it will be filled with a material called gutta-percha. The top or entry point will then be sealed with a filling or crown.
A follow-up appointment is usually scheduled to check the tooth and to place a permanent filling or crown.
What should I expect after my root canal treatment?
You may experience some sensitivity or discomfort in the treated tooth and surrounding area. This is normal and can usually be managed with over-the-counter pain medication. Your dental team may also prescribe stronger pain medication if needed.
It is also common to experience some swelling or tenderness in the gums around the treated tooth. You can use ice packs or warm compresses to help reduce swelling and manage discomfort. If the sensations worsen, or the swelling or discomfort causes distraction, contact your dental team for a follow-up appointment.
Are there any alternatives to a root canal?
The main alternative to a root canal is tooth extraction, which involves removing the infected or damaged tooth. However, tooth extraction is usually considered a last resort and is only recommended if the tooth cannot be saved through a root canal or other treatments.
Another option is called a pulpotomy, which is a procedure similar to a root canal, but it only removes the infected or inflamed pulp from the crown portion of the tooth, leaving the root canals intact.
How long do root canals last?
The longevity of a root canal also depends on the material that was used to fill the canals and the type of restoration that was placed on top of the tooth (such as a filling or crown). A tooth with a well performed root canal and a proper restoration may last for many years without any problems, but over time the filling or crown may need to be replaced, or the tooth may develop a new cavity.