Root Canals: What You Need To Know

Costello Family Dentistry is the trusted source for providing root canals and restorative dentistry for oral health in Carleton Place and surrounding communities.

What Is A Root Canal

A root canal, formally known as an endodontic treatment, is a series of dental procedures used to treat a serious tooth infection. Patients often shudder at the thought of having to undergo this kind of treatment, however it is not as scary as people believe it is and an important part of dentistry that saves millions of teeth every year. By understanding exactly what happens during a root canal treatment that our Carleton Place dentists perform on a regular basis, it is our hope that you won't avoid root canal treatment if you need it.

Cases Where a Root Canal Is The Right Course of Treatment

A root canal is the best treatment option for patients who have a severe tooth infection. This infection is caused when bacteria in a patient's mouth makes its way to the pulp of the tooth and causes it to become inflamed or infected. The pulp is the soft tissue at the core of a tooth that sits underneath the enamel and dentin layers.

Causes of inflammation of the pulp often stems from poor oral hygiene practices that lead to deep tooth decay. They can also be caused by having repeated dental procedures (such as dental fillings) performed on the tooth, a faulty dental crown that exposes the tooth underneath to bacteria, or a crack or chip in the tooth allowing bacteria to infect the pulp.

X-Ray of an infected tooth
young woman getting a filling at the dentist

How Root Canal Procedures are Performed

Root canal procedures are broken down into 8 steps that are carried out over 1 or 2 appointments depending on the severity of the case and the needs of the patient.

Step 1: Administer Local Anesthesia

The dentist will administer a local anesthetic (freezing), to the site of the procedure to numb the tooth and surrounding area. For patients with severe dental anxiety, dental sedation can be administered at this time to eligible patients to help them remain calm.

Step 2: Apply A Dental Dam

Once the site is sufficiently numb, the dentist will apply a thin sheet of rubber or vinyl that will block the surrounding teeth and create a sterile environment that reduces the risk of infection from bacteria found in the rest of the mouth.

Step 3: Drilling

In order to access the infected tissue of the tooth, the dentist will drill a small hole into the affected tooth. Thanks to the local anesthetic, patients won't feel any different than if they were getting a filling.

Step 4: Remove Nerves & Infected Tissue

Using special tools designed for the procedure, the dentist will proceed to remove the nerves and infected tissue through the hole they previously drilled. Once the nerves are removed, the tooth will no longer be able to feel pain.

Step 5: Disinfecting

The most important part of the procedure is making sure any bacteria left inside the empty canals of the tooth is dealt with. The dentist will thoroughly clean and disinfect the hollow insides of the tooth.

Step 6: Insert Flexible Root Canal Tools

Once the tooth is disinfected, flexible tools are inserted into the canals of the tooth to help shape the space where the filling and sealer will go. Once placed, the dentist will perform another thorough cleaning to remove any remaining debris.

Woman having her teeth cleaned by her dentist
Dentist performing a procedure on a sedated patient

Step 7: Apply The Filling

A special filling material is applied into the empty root canals and set in place by an adhesive cement sealer. The sealer is important to the procedure because it keeps the tooth from becoming reinfected in the future. Unless a post is needed, this is the final step of the procedure. Sometimes a post may be needed during this process as well, which leads to...

Step 8: Apply Post If Needed

A post may need to be inserted into the tooth during the filling process in step depending on the structure of the tooth. This post is used to hold a temporary or permanent filling in place. A post is not always required, and the dentist will be sure to use one only if needed.

Once the procedure is complete, most patients are prescribed an antibiotic to treat any infection that may remain. Patients who receive a temporary filling will need to return for a follow-up appointment to receive a permanent filling or dental crown to further reduce the risk of reinfection. It is common to feel minor pain or discomfort around the treated tooth after the local anesthetic wears off. However, this pain should only last a couple of days. If pain persists longer than that, then contact us immediately for a follow-up appointment.

Myths About Root Canal Treatments

People often fear root canal treatments because they are told that they are very painful procedures among other things. We'll go over the most common myths people believe.

Root Canal Treatment is Painful

Many decades ago, this was a truthful statement. Dental technology was not as advanced as it is now. With the use of modern tools, techniques and anesthetics, a root canal procedure doesn't feel any different than having a cavity filled.

Root Canal Treatment Causes Illness

This is an false claim that was based on poorly designed and debunked research that was conducted almost a century ago before the field of medicine had a clear understanding of the causes of many diseases. There is no valid scientific evidence to support this claim.

Female dentist performing a procedure on a sedated patient.

It's Better To Extract A Tooth Than Have A Root Canal Treatment

Whenever possible, it is always better to save a natural tooth. As far as dental technology has come, tooth replacement solutions can't fully replace the look or function of a natural tooth. Dental implants come close, but they require extensive surgery and recovery time and are much more costly than a dental implant. Dental bridges, dentures or flippers require more maintenance and treatments for the surrounding teeth and tissues. Root canal treatments have a very high rate of success and many root canal treated teeth last a lifetime with proper oral care.

Easy Root Canals In
Carleton Place

The dentists at Costello Family Dentistry in Carleton Place prioritize patient comfort and quality dental care above anything else. If you are experiencing severe tooth pain, you may need a root canal to treat it. Trust our team to give you a root canal treatment that is as quick and painless as possible. Contact us today for an appointment!