Root Canal Therapy: Purpose and procedure

For a tooth that has extensive decay, a severe fracture, or unfortunate trauma, a root canal is often the best procedure available to preserve the life of the tooth. All vital teeth are sustained by a nerve, or pulp, located in the center and down through the root of the tooth. In the event that the nerve has been compromised or is otherwise unhealthy, it can be removed and replaced by a permanent filling material.

Dr. Paul Lounsberry, your Austin dentist, knows that saving you natural teeth is always the best choice, and may recommend a root canal procedure rather than remove the tooth whenever possible. Although root canal treatments have historically held the reputation for the most feared dental procedure, understanding the purpose and procedure can help to eliminate apprehension.

Your dentist will utilize a series of tests including x-rays, percussion, and temperature to determine if a root canal procedure will be necessary. In the case of severe infection or abscess, antibiotics may be prescribed. Then, similar to a routine filling, the tooth will be anesthetized until it is completely numb. With successful anesthesia, the patient will be unable to distinguish any sensation of pain, or sharpness in or around the affected tooth.

By accessing the nerve of the tooth through the biting surface, your dentist will use delicate instruments to clean and sterilize the canal inside the tooth which once housed the nerve. Using precise measurements, the sterile canal will be filled with a rubber filling material.

Following the root canal treatment, the tooth can become brittle and fragile, due to the absence of the nerve, or blood supply. A final restoration such as a dental crown is often required for proper stability. Patients should take care to have the final restoration placed as soon as possible following the root canal procedure, or risk further damage to the tooth. In addition to the fragile state of the tooth, bacteria found in the saliva can seep into the root canal area, contaminating the sterile filling, leading to a secondary infection.

If you suspect that a root canal procedure is necessary for you, don’t wait until it hurts.  Call the office of Dr. Lounsberry at 512-331-9088 today to schedule treatment.

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