An Overview of Root Canals
The Root Canal Procedure continued...
Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, it needs to be sealed. Some dentists like to wait a week before sealing the tooth. For instance, if there is an infection, your dentist may put a medication inside the tooth to clear it up. Others may choose to seal the tooth the same day it is cleaned out. If root canal therapy is not completed on the same day, a temporary filling is placed in the exterior hole in the tooth to keep contaminants out between appointments.
At the next appointment, to fill the interior of the tooth, a sealer paste and a rubber compound called gutta-percha are placed into the tooth's root canal. To fill the exterior access hole created at the beginning of treatment, a filling is placed.
The final step may involve further restoration of the tooth. Because a tooth that needs root canal therapy often is one that has a large filling or extensive decay or other weakness, a crown, crown and post, or other restoration often needs to be placed on the tooth to protect it, prevent it from breaking, and restore it to full function. Your dentist will discuss the need for any additional dental work with you.
What Should One Expect After Root Canal Therapy?
Root canal therapy should relieve the pain you feel. Until your root canal procedure is completely finished -- that is, the permanent filling is in place and a crown, if needed, is in place -- it's wise to minimize chewing on the tooth under repair. This step will help avoid recontaminating the tooth’s interior and also may prevent a fragile tooth from breaking before the tooth can be fully restored.
For the first few days following the completion of treatment, the tooth may feel sensitive due to natural tissue inflammation, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. This sensitivity or discomfort usually can be controlled with over-the-counter pain medications such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) or naproxen (Aleve). Most patients can return to their normal activities the next day.
As far as oral health care is concerned, brush and floss as you regularly would, and see your dentist at normally scheduled intervals. Because the final step of root canal therapy is application of a restoration such as a crown or a filling, it will not be obvious to onlookers that a root canal was performed.
Root canal treatment is highly successful; the procedure has more than a 95% success rate. Many teeth fixed with root canal therapy can last a lifetime.