A cavity begins at the exterior of the tooth, where it affects only the enamel. If the decay is allowed to progress, it eats through the enamel and reaches the dentin. Once the cavity proceeds through the dentin, it enters the tooth's pulp and the tooth becomes infected. If you or a loved one has experienced an infected tooth, then you understand the incredible pain dental infections can cause. The infection can result in complications that lead to tooth loss and other painful problems. A root canal will remove the tooth's infected pulp before serious damage can take hold of the mouth.
The Root Canal Procedure
While many people view a root canal as something to be feared, the procedure is actually quite comfortable. In theory, the process is only minimally different than having a cavity filled - the treatment simply reaches deeper into the tooth. Receiving a root canal can actually save a tooth from extraction. After recovery, your tooth will be numb to any future pain, and you'll enjoy ongoing relief.
A typical root canal involves the following steps:
- A tiny hole is drilled in the lingual (tongue-facing) side of the tooth.
- The tooth's pulp is removed through this hole.
- The tooth is x-rayed to ensure total removal of the infection.
- The tooth is filled with gutta percha (dental filling) and a binding agent.
- The entry point is sealed, and the root canal is complete.
Depending on the treated tooth, it's possible that Dr. Lee will recommend placing a crown over its structure. This crown will help the tooth withstand biting and chewing forces (it's weaker after losing its pulp). It will also hide any discoloration that may arise after the tooth's death. This crown will be placed after the area has healed and the root canal deemed successful.
Dr. Lee will provide you with aftercare instructions that you should follow carefully. If you have questions at any point in the root canal process, don't hesitate to get in touch.