Dental Visits Decoded: Root Canal
Two words people probably dread hearing the most at their dentist's office: root canal. While getting the nerve tissue or pulp inside of your tooth removed may have once been a painful procedure, now it's no more uncomfortable than getting a cavity filled. Root canals are typically needed when tooth decay has spread to the nerve or because trauma to the tooth has killed the nerve entirely.
At your appointment, your general dentist or endodontist (a dentist who specializes in root canals) will first numb your tooth with a local anesthetic. Next, your dentist will make a small opening in the tooth and remove the inflamed tissue inside. After the tissue has been taken out, the tooth canals will be filled and sealed to prevent infection. If the structure of the tooth has been weakened by decay, your dentist may secure the root canal-treated tooth with a crown or other restoration.
And that's it! The best part of a root canal: After the procedure, your toothache will be gone. If the area surrounding the tooth is sore, you may want to take over-the-counter painkillers. Any discomfort should fade, however, after a few days.1
Note: Procedure descriptions cover what is typically involved in a procedure; actual method may vary by dental office.