Did you know that your tooth is a living organ, and like all living tissue, it can die? Many people are surprised to discover that their teeth are not some inert, lifeless object in their mouth. Despite your dental enamel being the hardest material in your body, it is protecting a soft inner layer called the dentin and the pulp. The pulp is fed by a network of nerves and blood vessels, and if these nerves and blood vessels die, the tooth can also die. If this happens, you are in danger of losing your tooth. We here at Mark A. Coussens, DMD Family & Cosmetic Dentistry often perform root canals on these teeth, giving them a second chance at remaining in your mouth.
What Happens During a Root Canal Procedure?
A root canal is a procedure that is designed to help save a damaged tooth, preventing it from requiring extraction. Teeth that have been severely damaged, or have a severe infection, may need a root canal. Advanced tooth decay often can warrant this procedure, as well as an accidental fracture of the tooth. Fortunately, root canals are often quite successful, helping to keep your tooth in your mouth. This is extremely important, as missing teeth can lead to a myriad of problems later on in life, such as pain when biting and chewing, shifting of your teeth, which can lead to further tooth loss, and even loss of bone and gum tissue.
Many people are understandably anxious about getting a root canal procedure done. We want to assure you that we will work with you to keep you as comfortable and pain-free as possible. Before we begin, we will carefully numb the site of the procedure up, ensuring that you do not experience any discomfort. If you have any discomfort or questions during the procedure, please let us know right away.
The root canal will begin with X-rays. This will allow us to gauge the depth of the infection and how severe the damage is to the tooth and the bone. After we numb the site, we may place a dental dam (a thin sheet of rubber latex) over the tooth to help protect the surrounding area from bacteria as well as keep it clean and dry.
We will then carefully drill into the infected tooth with our handpiece, a small but powerful drill that allows us to bore through the enamel to reach the infection. Once we have access to the pulp, we will thoroughly remove all traces of the infection. We will then file the area down to help prepare it for a filling; then we will wash it with an antibacterial solution to kill any remaining infection.
We will then fill the opening with a special type of putty called gutta percha. Then we will put a temporary filling down over it as we wait for your permanent crown to be made. Once it is ready, which can take up to two weeks later, we will finally place the crown. If you continue to take good care of your teeth, this crown can last you the rest of your life, giving you a permanent and lasting restoration.
To learn more about root canals, or to schedule an appointment at our office, please give us a call here at Mark A. Coussens, DMD Family & Cosmetic Dentistry today at (503) 567-4121!