The Root Canal Procedure
A root canal infection affects a tooth’s pulp (nerves, tissues, and blood vessels) and root system. The infection causes symptoms such as oral pain, heightened sensitivity, and tender, inflamed gums. A root canal procedure is the best way to treat root canal infection without extracting the affected tooth.
Many people fear root canal therapy, but it is a safe and effective endodontic treatment. Here, Dr. Kellyn Hodges provides an overview of the root canal procedure so that patients know what to expect when undergoing treatment at her orthodontic practice that serves Philadelphia, PA, Bala Cynwyd, PA, Bensalem, PA, and surrounding areas.
Stages of Root Canal Treatment: What to Expect
Root canal therapy is a straightforward procedure that is generally completed in under one hour. To prepare patients for what to expect during their root canal procedure, Dr. Hodges breaks treatment down into stages: anesthesia, assessing root canals, removing infection, filling the root canals, and placing a restoration.
Most people fear root canal therapy because they expect it to be painful. Every root canal procedure begins with the administration of anesthesia to numb the treatment area and surrounding tissues. Our goal is to ensure patients stay comfortable throughout root canal therapy. Most root canal procedures are performed with a local anesthetic, but other options are available for patients with high dental anxiety.
Assessing Root Canals
Assessing the root canals is necessary to grant access to the pulp, where the infection resides. To assess the root canals, a small hole is made in the surface of the tooth. Anesthesia prevents patients from feeling any pain when the hole is made.
Once the endodontist has access to the inner tooth, infected tissues are removed. The inside of the tooth is cleaned, including the length of the root canals, to destroy harmful bacteria and eliminate all signs of infection.
Filling the Root Canals
A tooth without its pulp is like an empty shell. Filling the root canals and the inner tooth is necessary to strengthen the tooth and block harmful bacteria to prevent reinfection. During root canal therapy, the tooth is filled with a rubber-like compound called gutta-percha.
Placing a Restoration
A dental restoration is placed at the final stage of root canal therapy to provide a layer of strength and protection that restores oral functions. A dental crown is the most common restoration for root canal therapy. We often place a temporary crown at the end of root canal treatment and have patients return a couple of weeks later to have a permanent crown placed.
Can I Undergo Root Canal Therapy During Orthodontics Treatment?
Many of Dr. Hodges’ patients are undergoing orthodontic treatment, so it is common for them to ask if they can undergo root canal therapy during braces or Invisalign treatment. The answer is yes.
Root canal therapy can easily be performed during Invisalign treatment. The patient simply removes their aligners before treatment. Braces patients can also undergo root canal therapy. Braces brackets sit on the front of the teeth, so the endodontist makes the access hole at the back or side of the tooth to avoid damaging braces. Ideally, braces wires should be removed before a root canal procedure.
If you are suffering from pain, inflammation, and heightened sensitivity associated with a root canal infection, a root canal procedure can help. To learn more about the stages of root canal therapy at Dr. Kellyn Hodges’ orthodontics center, request an appointment online or call (610) 617-0700.