What happens during a root canal? Dentists and specialists perform 25 million endodontic treatments, such as root canals, each year, according to the American Association of Endodontists (AAE). If you're one of the millions of Americans who need this endodontic service, take a look at what you need to know about the procedure.
Will It Hurt?
No, this procedure shouldn't hurt. Even though the dentist or endodontist will need to create a small hole in the affected tooth, remove the pulp (from inside of the tooth), clean the inner canal area, shape the canal, and fill the canal, anesthesia makes this procedure almost pain-free. The dentist will inject a local anesthetic to numb the area before they start the procedure.
Can You Sleep Through the Procedure?
Yes, you can sleep through this procedure. If your dentist offers sedation and you have concerns or are anxious about the procedure, you can choose to rest through the treatment. The sedation dentists use is different from the general anesthesia you would need during a major surgery. This means you won't need help breathing and can wake up easily. But you will still need a responsible adult to drive you home from the procedure.
What Happens After the Anesthesia Step?
Yes, the dentist or endodontist will need to create an access hole in your tooth. They will drill through your tooth to reach the pulp chamber. Before the dentist can shape the inner canal, they will clean the area with an antibacterial/antiseptic product and remove the pulp with specialized tools.
When the canal area is clean the dental pro will shape the canal space. This step prepares your tooth for the next part of the process—filling the canal. Unlike cavity fillings, canal fillings are not typically made from composite resin or metal. Instead, the dentist will fill the interior space with a material known as gutta-percha. Gutta-percha has a rubber-like consistency and will take the place of natural pulp.
After filling the tooth, the dentist will seal the hole. This will help keep bacteria out of the canal space.
Will You Need a Crown?
Yes you will, and this is the final step of the root canal procedure. The dentist may place a temporary crown on top of the tooth. This caps the tooth and can keep the interior space safe. If you get a temporary crown, you will need to return to the office for a permanent crown. The permanent crown will protect the tooth and provide a strong, durable chewing surface.
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