Getting to the Root of Root Canals

what is a root canal

Getting to the Root of Root Canals

For many people, the mere thought of needing a root canal is anxiety-inducing. At Hicks Dental Group of Prescott, we want to assuage your fears. Although root canals might seem scary and complicated, they have come a long way. With advances in techniques and technology, root canals have evolved into a simple procedure that isn’t any more painful than a filling. 

What is a root canal?

A root canal is a dental procedure that is used to remove infection and inflamed or dying tissue in the root of your tooth. The pulp of the tooth can become severely infected or inflamed due to an injury or an untreated cavity. Without this procedure, the tooth would need to be removed—a root canal is aimed at saving your tooth and keeping your smile intact. 

What to Expect with a Root Canal

The procedure generally takes two office visits. 

  • The first step is to administer a local anesthesia. This will feel like a pinch when the needle is inserted into your gums—it numbs the area so you won’t feel any pain throughout the procedure. 
  • The next step is a pulpectomy, or the removal of the infected tooth pulp. Your dentist will use a small drill, to access the inside of the tooth, then small files to clear away the damaged pulp from the inside of the tooth. He might also irrigate with an antimicrobial solution to kill any remaining bacteria and reduce the risk of the infection spreading.
  • Next, your dentist will fill the roots that have been opened with a material called gutta-percha. The tooth will then be sealed with a temporary filling. 
  • In a few weeks, you’ll have to come back to the office to receive a permanent porcelain crown.

Post Root Canal Care 

Taking care of your teeth and gums is essential after a root canal. Make sure to maintain good oral care by brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, and keeping up with your twice-yearly dental cleanings and exams. You might need to schedule an additional visit with your dentist to x-ray the tooth, ensuring the infection is completely gone. With exceptional oral hygiene, a tooth that has had a root canal can remain healthy for the rest of your life. 

Prevention is the Best Medicine

We can’t stress enough how important it is to schedule two dental cleanings per year. Even if you don’t have obvious symptoms like pain, or hot and cold sensitivity, making time for your biannual visits could prevent tooth decay or infection from going undetected. At dental cleanings, in order to make certain your teeth and gums are healthy, we carefully examine those hidden places where bacteria can do the most damage. Then we clean off plaque buildup to keep your teeth clean and strong, preventing the need for a root canal in the first place. 

Give us a Call 

At Hicks Dental Group in Prescott, we understand your life may be filled with family activities, job commitments, and other important priorities, but letting an infection go untreated can be dangerous to your teeth and gums. If you have symptoms or if it’s been more than 6 months since your last cleaning, contact our office and make an appointment for a check-up. A root canal can seem daunting at first, but it is often the best option for a pain-free, beautiful smile for years to come. 


Image by StockSnap from Pixabay