A Brief Guide to Endodontic Procedures

You’ve just recovered from an uncomfortable dental infection and both you and your dental team want to prevent it from happening again. Unless you have had a dental infection before (ouch!) then you may be unfamiliar with the normal treatment for such an occurrence. Usually, to prevent an infection from happening again and to protect the tooth, your dental team will want to perform a root canal. And at the mention of such a procedure, you have probably shuddered! Not to worry though! Across the world each day, thousands of root canal are performed by dental teams and in the long-term, they have a very high success rate; around 96-97% 15 years after they have been fitted. But, you have probably heard a few mistruths about root canals, and are worried about letting your dentist Wagga perform one. So, to break down the barriers, what is a root canal? How is it performed and how does it work? Read on to find out! 

What is a root canal? 
In short, endodontics or a root canal is a procedure by which the infection is physically removed from an afflicted tooth and the tooth is disinfected, preventing the infection from spreading to surrounding teeth and soft tissues.  

How is it performed? 
Depending on the severity of the infection, your dental team may wish to prescribe you antibiotics beforehand to help reduce the number of bacteria within the tooth and the swelling. Once they are happy with the level, they will numb the area and slowly drill directly down to the root(s) of your tooth, creating a canal (hence the name root canal!). Then, using a set of dental files, they will increase the width of the hole gently. With the canal now the correct width, they will begin removing the infected pulp and debris with a set of brushes, intermittently spraying the area with dental disinfectants. If your infected tooth is a single root, this can take up to an hour; for double rooted teeth, you may need to have the treatment performed across 2 sittings. Once complete, the tooth is filled with a putty-like material to prevent reinfection and the hole is topped with a filling, a crown or even a veneer. 

It is likely that after your root canal has been fitted, your jaw will feel slightly bruised; this is normal, but overall, you may notice a reduction in discomfort. You will need to maintain good oral hygiene and see your dental professional twice annually to ensure that your root canal stays in place and continues to function correctly- a well looked after root canal can last for the rest of your life, so they are well worth taking care of. 

Alternatives to endodontics 
When a tooth is infected, there are usually only 2 courses of treatment open to you and your dental team. The first is obviously a root canal, which preserves the tooth and retains your oral aesthetic and the second is a full tooth extraction. 

Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.