What is Root Canal Treatment?

Although the name feels like a scary or painful treatment, a root canal treatment procedure is a pain-free procedure that dentists perform to save a tooth from extraction. If your dentist has recommended a root canal treatment for one of your teeth and you’re wondering what it is – and how it’s performed, then read on. 

What is Root Canal Treatment?

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a root canal treatment is a procedure in which your dentist will remove harmful bacteria and infected pulp tissue from a tooth’s interior. Dentists and endodontists used root canal treatment as a last resort to save a tooth from extraction. 

Why is Root Canal Treatment Required?

Our teeth are covered on the exterior by a hard, mineralized layer called the enamel. The dental enamel strengthens the tooth and protects the underlying, more delicate dentin layer and the innermost layer – the pulp containing nerves and blood vessels. 

When the enamel’s protective covering is damaged, either because of teeth cavities or an accident, the underlying layers can become exposed. Initially, the affected tooth will only become sensitive to hot and cold foods – and the pain goes away quickly. At this stage, your dentist can restore the damaged tooth with a simple filling. 

However, if this condition is not treated promptly, harmful bacteria may gain entry into the pulp tissue and result in an irreversible inflammation. When this happens, there is a sharp, unbearable, and continuous pain in the affected tooth that does not go away even after taking pain medications. At this stage, a root canal is the only option available to save this tooth. 

How is Root Canal Treatment Performed?

A root canal treatment is a simple procedure that is typically completed in multiple sittings. First, your dentist will perform a thorough clinical examination to ascertain the inflammation’s location and extent. He or she will also look at the x-ray images of your teeth to assess the tooth roots’ interior anatomy, the canals in the root to anticipate any possible difficulties or complications during the procedure. 

To begin the procedure, your dentist will administer local anesthesia to make you comfortable and pain-free. Next, your dentist will drill a small hole in the tooth to access the underlying pulp. He or she will then remove the inflamed pulp by using special instruments called the endodontic files. 

Once the pulp tissue has been removed, your dentist will thoroughly wash and disinfect the tooth’s interior, insert a medicament inside it and then place a temporary filling over it. 

During the next appointment, your dentist will look at the x-ray image of the tooth to make sure it has healed sufficiently. If it has, they will remove the medicament, wash and disinfect the tooth again, and then fill it with an inert material to prevent re-infection. The dentist will then place a temporary filling and schedule another follow-up appointment. At the final appointment, your dentist will remove the temporary filling and replace it with a permanent filling and crown. 

Teeth tend to become weak and brittle following a root canal procedure. Therefore, dentists recommend strengthening them with a dental crown to minimize the chances of chipping or fracturing. 

Gone are the days when tooth extraction was the only option for treating pulp infections. Nowadays, dentists can save even the most grossly damaged teeth, thanks to modern dentistry. Talk to one of our top Chicago dentists if you have any questions or concerns about needing a root canal procedure. We have day and evening appointments available, schedule yours by calling 773-481-2200 now.