How A Dentist Does A Root Canal

Posted on: 18 May 2015

Root canals are a common procedure used to try and save a decayed and/or an infected tooth. The procedure removes the nerve and pulp from inside a tooth to prevent further decay and infection that could cause serious problems in your mouth, face, and neck. Fortunately, the nerve and pulp isn't really necessary once the tooth has fully developed, and removing the nerve and pulp isn't a big problem for most adults. Here is how a dentist performs a root canal on your tooth.

Signs You Need a Root Canal

Your dentist will make sure you need a root canal before they go ahead and perform one on your tooth. Some of the signs are obvious: Your tooth hurts when you chew or press down on something, or your tooth feels hot and cold temperatures for a few moments after the source of the temperature (e.g., a cup of coffee or ice cream cone) has been removed. Your dentist will verify their initial findings by taking an x-ray of the tooth to see how far the decay and infection have spread.

The Root Canal Procedure

Your dentist will use a local anesthetic like Novocain to numb your tooth and gums.  A hole will then be drilled into your tooth for your dentist to gain access to the interior of your tooth. The dentist will then remove the nerve and the pulp from inside the tooth using special files made for this procedure. The files start out small, but they increase in size as the dentist works their way down through your tooth to scrap away the nerve and pulp. The files will extend down into the root structure, called the root canal, until the inside of the tooth is thoroughly cleaned.

Capping the tooth

Your dentist may or may not cap the tooth right away. If an infection is present, your dentist may want to keep the tooth open (you shouldn't feel too much discomfort since the dentist took the nerve out) until the infection clears up – your dentist will probably prescribe antibiotics to help the clear up the infection. A temporary filling will be put in the tooth to keep the inside free of debris while you wait for the infection to go away. Once the infection clears, your dentist will have you come back to fill the tooth cavity with a special filling made up of a rubber compound and sealant paste. The final step is typically capping off the tooth with a crown.

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