If your dentist has informed you that you need a root canal, you can expect your treatment to require 2-3 visits. However, the actual treatment time is often less than one hour. Moreover, the area surrounding the tooth being treated will be completely anesthetized, so the procedure is virtually painless. Here’s what to expect if you need a root canal.
Step-By-Step Guide to Root Canal Treatment
The first step in a root canal is the diagnosis your dentist provides. If you’re told you need a root canal it is because:
- Tooth decay is so widespread in the tooth that a filling cannot treat it
- Tooth decay has reached the interior (pulp) of the tooth
- The tooth has been cracked due to trauma or injury
- A previous filling or crown failed
- The interior of the tooth is infected or inflamed
- You’re at risk of losing a tooth due to any of the above
Your dentist will take digital x-rays and obtain digital impressions of your teeth that will be used to create your dental crown. You’ll schedule your treatment appointment before you leave the office.
On the day of the root canal, your dentist will review all of your scans and x-rays, and anesthetize the area around the tooth that will be treated.
Once you are completely numb, your dentist will drill a tiny hole in the tooth to access the pulp. They will then remove all decay or any debris, along with the pulp. Your dentist may widen the pulp chamber, or otherwise reshape the canals in the tooth.
Next, the interior chamber of the tooth will be flushed (irrigated), and an antimicrobial medication will be applied to treat any residual infection or prevent an infection from developing.
The interior of the tooth will then be filled with a biocompatible material called gutta-percha. This rubbery material will seal the tooth completely. You will be fitted with a temporary crown before leaving the appointment.
Once your new crown has arrived from the lab, your dentist will contact you to schedule your next appointment. During this appointment, your dentist will remove your temporary crown and bond your permanent crown to the tooth. Your treatment will then be complete.
What to Expect After Your Root Canal
It is normal to experience sensitivity in the tooth after the anesthesia wears off. Your dentist will talk with you about the best over-the-counter medications to take to alleviate discomfort. If you had a serious infection, you may also need a short course of antibiotics to ensure that all infection is eradicated.
For the first few days, you may be most comfortable eating softer foods or using the other side of your mouth to chew. If you experience any significant pain or swelling after a root canal, notify your dentist immediately.
Teeth that have been treated with a root canal require the same care as your other teeth. You should brush twice daily and floss daily. You should continue to see your dentist twice a year for comprehensive exams and cleanings.
Tooth Pain? Book an Appointment on the Upper East Side Today
A toothache often signifies decay. But that doesn’t mean you’ll need a root canal. However, tooth pain is unlikely to go away on its own, so it is important to see a dentist as soon as possible for an accurate diagnosis and treatment plan. To book an appointment for tooth pain on the UES, contact Minoli & Vijay at 212-888-4140, or send us a message to request your appointment.