Endodontics is the dental specialty that deals with the nerves of the teeth. Root canals are probably the most notorious procedure in dentistry and the most common procedure relating to endodontics. When a tooth becomes infected it is usually related to the nerves and blood vessels in the root of the tooth. The infected tissue needs to be removed. If left untreated an infection can turn into a painful abscess, which is a much more serious problem that includes bone loss in the jaw.
The area around the tooth is first numbed with a local anesthetic. Then through a sequence of procedures, the interior of the tooth is cleaned and the infected tissue is removed. To help keep the infection from recurring, the root canal is filled with a rubber-like material. It is then highly recommended that a root canal treated tooth be fitted with a crown. This will provide a tight seal and help keep the tooth from splitting.
“Root canal” has become an unpopular term for dental patients to hear, but the benefits of the procedure and advances in dental technology have made it much less “scary”. Local anesthetics and proper pain medication allow the procedure to be performed with little to no pain in most cases. There may be some soreness following the procedure, but that subsides quickly. Over the counter painkillers are usually enough to relieve any pain afterward.