Improving Your Dental Care

Treating A Severe Cavity

Nobody ever wants to have a cavity, but if you put it on the back burner and don't seek help, you might require more care than simply having it drilled and filled. If you're already experiencing pain from your cavity, a root canal might be in your future. Here's what you should know about root canals.

What's a Root Canal, Really?

Root canals make a lot of people nervous just at the sound of the name, but in reality, they're nothing to worry about. Your dentist has likely performed thousands of them, knows exactly what they're doing, and will make it a safe and comfortable experience for you.

A root canal is a procedure where the interior of a tooth is taken out and replaced with a filling. This is accomplished by drilling into the tooth and using the drill to pulverize and remove the interior parts of the tooth, like the dentin and pulp.

How Does It Help?

Root canals are only used when the health of a tooth is in danger. For example, here's a look at why a dentist would perform a root canal if you have a deep cavity.

With a deep cavity, the softer tissues on the inside of the tooth get attacked by bacteria and plaque. When this happens, they start to hurt, as this is where the nerves in teeth lie. If the infarction is allowed to continue, the tooth will eventually become infected, and that infection can spread out of the tooth and into the bloodstream. People have died when teeth have induced sepsis, so the only possibility here is to either remove the part of the tooth that's being damaged and replace it with a synthetic filling or to completely pull the tooth out. Most people prefer to have a root canal as it doesn't leave you with a blank space in your mouth and doesn't mean that you have to get a bridge or other replacement later on.

What to Expect

Getting a root canal is a pretty simple process. It's a procedure that can be done in one day, and you don't even need to worry about not being able to drive yourself home.

Your dentist will first confirm that you need a root canal. If you do, they'll get to work. The first step is to numb your gums completely, which is accomplished usually with a topical anesthetic and then injected pain relief. From there, they'll begin the procedure.

A hole will be drilled into the tooth, usually where the cavity was invading in the first place. Once they have a large enough opening, they'll go in with a much smaller drill that will let them completely remove the interior of the tooth. Once that's done, they'll go in with another small tool that lets them inject filling into the root of the tooth, all the way out into the hole they created. Then they'll seal the outside of the tooth completely.

Usually, a crown is also recommended to put on top of a tooth that has had a root canal. This will just be applied with dental cement, so it'll be the easiest part of the whole procedure.