If damage to your tooth is so extensive that other restorative measures are not an option, a root canal is the final alternative to pulling the tooth. Fortunately, root canals have a high success rate, so usually the tooth is saved. If you’ve never had a root canal before, it can be a little intimidating, and the information you get about it can be confusing. Here is an overview of what to expect.
- It May Take Several Visits
A root canal is required when there is decay and infection at the innermost layer of the tooth, called the pulp. The dentist or endodontist has to drill an opening in the tooth using tools produced by dental parts manufacturers to reach the pulp. The opening reaches down to the root of the tooth, hence the term “root canal.”
Once the root canal has been drilled, the dentist then uses root canal files to clear out all the bacteria and decay. The final step in the process involves using a rubber material called gutta percha to fill up the empty space in the tooth. These steps may all happen at the same visit, or each step may require a separate visit.
- You May Need a Crown
After a root canal procedure, the tooth may become brittle and dry. It may no longer be able to stand up to the task of biting and chewing. A crown is a prosthetic that covers the tooth and strengthens it so that it can continue to do what it is supposed to do.
- There Is a Risk of Subsequent Infection
Most root canals are completely successful, and with the application of a crown, the tooth is restored. However, this does not mean that you don’t have to worry about oral hygiene from now on. The tooth may be susceptible to further infection, and the crown is not invincible either. You still have to take proper care of your mouth by flossing once a day, brushing twice a day, and having regular dental cleanings and checkups. Otherwise, you could require more dental work and may be at risk for tooth loss.