Root canal surgery can prevent the extraction of a tooth with an infected or inflamed pulp. The pulp tissue in the center of a tooth can become infected for a number of reasons. A deep cavity or a fracture can let bacteria reach the dental pulp, and trauma can damage the pulp even if there is no visible damage. If the tooth is not treated, pain or an abscess can develop, and eventually lead to the loss of the tooth.
Although many have the perception that root canal therapy is uncomfortable, this is an outdated misconception. Modern dental techniques and anesthetics have made the process for this treatment little different from having a filling. There may be some post treatment soreness, but it should resolve in a few days, and it can be controlled with over the counter pain relievers.
There are seven basic steps to the process: Diagnosis – The doctor will confirm that root canal therapy is needed by examination, x-rays, and tests. A percussion test involves tapping lightly on the tooth, and a thermal test is to determine reaction to heat and cold. Access – Damaged tooth structure is removed and a small opening is made in the tooth to give the doctor access to the pulpal chamber and canals. You are numb throughout this whole procedure and do not feel anything! Removal – The diseased tissue is removed from the center of the tooth. Cleaning and preparation – The debris is rinsed from the tooth with an irrigant, and the canal is shaped to facilitate filling. The funnel shaped space is dried thoroughly in preparation for a filling. The tooth is filled, usually with gutta-percha, a firm, waxy, biocompatible rubbery substance that will give the tooth a strong core and prevent bacterial growth. The access opening is sealed, and the tooth is usually covered with a dental crown to provide strength and protection. Again – the anesthetic keeps the tooth numb all the way through.
The treated tooth may feel a little different at first because the nerve has been removed, and the crown may feel a little strange, but this will be temporary. The tooth will function and look just as a natural tooth does.
Dr. Sameet Koppikar is a board certified Doctor of Dental Surgery, with extensive experience in treating complex cases. He has been helping patients save their natural teeth with this simple, but delicate procedure for over a decade. Dr. Koppikar and his skilled dental team offer a wide range of preventive, restorative, and cosmetic services to improve the oral health, smiles, and lives of the people of Phoenix. Call (602) 954-8200 today to schedule an appointment.