Root canal treatment has an unjustified reputation as a painful dental procedure. The irony of this is that successful root canal treatment (also called endodontic treatment) nearly always results in a dramatic reduction of pain, and most patients experience little to no pain post-procedure.
Root Canal Basic Terminology
The drawing to the right will help explain why root canal procedures are sometimes necessary. Root canal treatments become necessary when you get an infection inside your tooth. As with all other parts of your body, your immune system responds to an infection by sending antibodies and white blood cells to the affected area. When the infection is inside your tooth, there is not enough room inside the canal space for these extra cells, and the tooth enamel can not expand like other bodily tissues do to accommodate the swelling. The tissue attempts to swell, then dies, creating a source of perpetual infection called an abscess.
This infection can spill into the bone surrounding the tooth, and if left unchecked can damage the teeth surrounding the infected tooth. The infected material must be removed, and that procedure is called a root canal, or root canal treatment.
What to Expect During a Root Canal
Dr. Currie performs most root canal procedures himself, though he will occasionally refer patients who need molars treated out to an endodontic specialist.
Most in office root canal procedures are performed using a local anesthetic, and little to no discomfort is experienced by the patient. Dr. Currie removes the infected materials from the tooth, then fills the tooth with sealant. A dental crown is fitted over the treated tooth, to protect it from future fractures.
Post-procedure pain medication is often unnecessary.