The purpose of a root canal is tooth preservation. In fact, a root canal often saves teeth that might have to be removed otherwise. When a tooth has damaged pulp (the inner layers of tooth tissues that are made of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues) the tooth will become seriously damaged. This often causes pain when eating or other symptoms. In a root canal procedure, the dentist will eliminate those damaged tissues. The outer part of the tooth, which is still healthy, will be left intact.
Many patients who have damaged tooth pulp will experience major tooth pain when they are chewing. Tooth pain while eating is usually the main complaint that leads people to seek dental care for damaged tooth pulp. Many people are sensitive to hot or cold drinks as well. Sometimes, the damaged pulp will result in swelling in the jaw or elsewhere in the mouth. With a root canal, all of these difficult symptoms can be eliminated at one time.
The root canal procedure usually happens over at least two separate visits. During the first visit, the dentist will sedate the patient so they are comfortable and will then take the damaged pulp out of the tooth. The teeth will also be completely cleaned once the infection has been removed. A sealant is placed on the tooth to protect it while a custom crown is being created. During the next visit, the custom crown will be cemented into place atop the tooth. The crown offers not only excellent protection but also a perfect cosmetic appearance.
While a patient is waiting for their crown to be made, they may need to be very cautious about damaging the tooth. Once the crown is in place, most patients find that they are able to eat and drink normally with no pain. Most people need no significant downtime after a root canal.
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