If tooth decay damages a large portion of one of your teeth, your dentist may recommend a root canal. A root canal cleans out bacteria that are trapped in your roots and prevents the tooth from needing to be removed. Although root canals have a reputation for being painful, most patients are pleasantly surprised that they are comfortable and not very different from getting a filling. If your dentist in Grand Rapids, MI, schedules you for a root canal, here is a look at what you can expect.
Before your dentist begins your procedure, he or she will administer local anesthesia to the treatment area. Generally, it may be possible to have a root canal without anesthesia, because the tooth is dead and therefore should cause no pain, but dentists use anesthesia to ensure complete patient comfort so you can relax during the procedure. He or she will place a dental dam—a thin sheet of rubber with a hole to allow the tooth being treated to poke through—in the treatment area. The dental dam keeps your tooth dry and free from bacteria in the saliva during the procedure.
To remove the diseased pulp from the roots of your tooth, your dentist will drill a small hole in the tooth. He or she will use a series of files to clean the pulp out of the tooth completely. Next, the canals that were cleaned will be disinfected with an antibacterial solution and thoroughly cleaned before they are sealed with gutta-percha, a material similar to rubber. Your dentist may prescribe an oral antibiotic to prevent infection after the procedure. You may need over-the-counter pain medications to reduce any soreness or swelling you feel the day of your root canal.
Once your root canal has healed, your dentist may recommend a dental crown to rebuild the affected tooth. A crown can be made to match your natural teeth so that it blends into your smile. Your crown can be brushed and flossed just like your natural teeth, and with proper care, it can last 10 years or more.