Root canals are a common dental procedure that removes infected tissue and bacteria from inside your tooth. If left untreated, these infections can spread to other teeth and cause a wide variety of health problems.
Infections occur when bacteria get under the protective layer of your tooth’s enamel and enter into the pulp chamber and root canals, which are the interior of your tooth. This can happen for many reasons, including a cracked or chipped tooth, deep decay or even an injury.
The pulp contains nerves and blood vessels that supply oxygen and nutrients to your body. It also helps the root to develop and grow. When the pulp becomes infected, it can damage the surrounding tooth structure, which is why a root canal is so important.
What causes the infection?
Infected roots can be caused by several things, including cavities (cavities), cracks or chips in your tooth and repeated dental treatments. These conditions can lead to a tooth that’s painful or has signs of serious damage, like pus or bone loss in the area around the tooth.
Symptoms of an infected tooth include pain or discomfort that doesn’t go away, swelling of the gums and other tissues, sensitivity to hot or cold foods or drinks, and a bad taste in your mouth. X-rays of the tooth can help the dentist identify the problem and plan for a root canal.
A root canal is usually performed under local anesthesia, but you can request nitrous oxide or oral sedation to reduce the stress and anxiety of the treatment. Most people can go back to work or school immediately after a root canal, but it is best to avoid eating until the numbness wears off and you have regained full function of your tooth.
What’s the best way to know if you need a root canal?
Your root canal dentist will listen to your symptoms and examine your teeth and take X-rays. If X-rays show that you have infected pulp, a root canal is the best option to save your tooth and prevent it from becoming infected again.
How long does a root canal take?
Depending on your specific situation, a root canal treatment can be completed in one or more appointments. The initial appointment involves removal of the infected pulp, which is then cleaned and disinfected to make sure no further infection can develop.
The next step is to fill the empty root canals with a biocompatible material, usually a rubber-like substance called gutta-percha. Then, a temporary filling is placed to seal the opening and the tooth is capped with a crown or other restoration to protect the treated tooth. Click here for more details.
Do I need antibiotics before a root canal?
The only time antibiotics should be prescribed is if your dentist believes you have a severe infection and/or fever. Antibiotics are not an effective means of treating a root canal, but they can ease the symptoms and help prevent infection from spreading to other teeth.