Root Canals FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions Regarding Root Canals

Root canals have a very bad name—they are often compared to a lot of bad things, but this procedure is anything but bad. Technically speaking, the root canal is a part of the tooth, right, of course, at the root. The root canal—the space within the tooth and not the procedure—is made up of the main canals and the pulp chamber. Root canal surgery is in fact hundreds of years old, but the modern procedure is more advanced and refined, and is prescribed to patients who want to save their teeth.

Here are some of the frequently asked questions about root canal procedures, answered.

When do I need a root canal?
Technically speaking, everyone needs a root canal, if we use the term to refer to the channel filled with soft tissues within the tooth. However, the procedure involving the drilling and filling of root canals are often prescribed to a patient when a tooth is suffering from either infection or decay, which could lead to tooth loss.

Root canal surgery is often recommended to prevent the spread of infection or further decaying of the tooth. Instead of pulling out the tooth to address the patient’s complaints (typically, decay and infection come with a lot of pain), root canal surgery will be prescribed by the dentist.

How do I know if I need a root canal?
A dentist would need to examine you first, and recommend the procedure if necessary.

How does a root canal procedure go?
A root canal procedure can only be performed inside a dental clinic or office, and by a licensed dental professional. Most dental clinics offer this treatment option, but in severe cases, a dentist might refer a patient to a specialist, known as an endodontist. Sadly, root canal procedures warrant more than one visit.

A root canal procedure will typically begin with the administration of anaesthetic on the area—this is done because there are nerve tissues inside the root canal itself and it could get very painful without anaesthetics. Once the anaesthetic has numbed the area, the dentist or the endodontist will begin drilling through the affected tooth to remove infected or decaying tissues. The canal will then be filled with rubber cement, and care has to be exerted to prevent air pockets. Once the dentist has taken an x-ray to ensure the complete absence of air pockets within the canal(s), the hole will be sealed.

Are root canal procedures painful?
It actually depends on the pain tolerance of the patient, but root canal procedures are not performed without anaesthetics. There might be a bit of discomfort involved once the dentist starts drilling, but otherwise the procedure is not much different from getting tooth fillings.

How long does it take for the procedure?
Because it qualifies as surgery, a root canal cannot be over in a single visit. Depending on the gravity of the decay or infection, the procedure has to be spread across multiple visits. The patient will be put under anaesthesia in every visit that involves the procedure.

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