The Truth About Root Canals Posted on October 4, 2013

What is a root canal?

A root canal is a very common dental procedure, but unfortunately it’s one that comes with many misconceptions. Let’s take a look at a few of them:

The misconception: The roots of the tooth are removed during a root canal procedure.

The truth: The roots remain in place. An endodontist removes the soft tissue or nerve from inside the root. Reason that the nerve is removed because it is dying or has died, creating a problem in the tooth and often pain. When a nerve is dying, it may have been caused by a large cavity, a replacement of an old filling, or trauma to the tooth. Sometimes, the nerve will also start to die because of a small fracture in the tooth. Your endodontist may use x-rays from different angles, specific pulp tests depending on what causes your pain, and several specific instruments to determine which tooth is causing the problem.

The misconception: Root canals are painful!

The truth: Today’s root canals are NOT painful, and with modern anesthetics most patients remain comfortable during the procedure. Yes, really! When you hear someone say, “I’d rather be getting a root canal,” they obviously haven’t had one for a while. After the root canal is done, that section of your mouth could be sore for up to three days, so you’ll need to be careful when you chew. Dr. Semashko will discuss pain medications that you can use during these few days.

The misconception: A root canal is a very long procedure.

The truth: Most root canals that are performed by an endodontist are relatively quick procedures because they have specialized equipment, including digital microscopes, electric hand pieces, and ultrasonic instruments that make root canal treatment very precise.

First, an opening or access is made into the biting area of the tooth. On back teeth, this is on the top of the tooth, and on front teeth, it is behind the tooth. This is done under local anesthesia and with a rubber dam in place. The rubber dam is used to isolate the tooth, provide a clean sterile area to perform the treatment, and to prevent you from swallowing anything during the treatment.

Next, a series of sterile instruments are used to clean and shape the canal within the root. This cleaned space is than filled with a cement and a inert material called gutta percha. This material remains in the root for as long as you keep the tooth.

The procedure will take from an hour to an hour and a half depending on the tooth, the number of canals in the tooth, and how difficult it is to locate and instrument the canal or canals.

Then, the treatment is completed with a temporary filling that is placed in the access opening. Your tooth will eventually be restored by your general dentist.

Call Dr. Semashko today for comfortable and quick root canal treatment. He has specialized equipment and instruments and has more than 20 years of experience as an endodonist.