What to Expect with Your First Root Canal Blog

24 April 2016

What to Expect with Your First Root Canal

Being told you have to have a root canal is never something you want to hear and for many, it results in instant panic. While root canals are actually a fairly common dental procedure, most people seem to equate it with major surgery and immediately wince at the amount of pain they believe they will be in. However, a lot of this fear comes from the fact that many people don’t actually know what root canals entail. Here is an outline of what you can expect from a root canal that may help calm your worries.

The Definition of a Root Canal

Root canals are done to stop the decay and death of a tooth. They will not restore the tooth to normal because the tooth is dying, but they will help preserve it so that it does not have to be extracted. While you could have the tooth pulled and have an implant put in, it’s easier to keep your original tooth and even if the root of the tooth is dead, you can still chew with it.

First, though, the dead root needs to be removed. That’s what a root canal does. It removes the dead inside of the tooth, leaving behind the part you actually eat with. Unfortunately, without the interior, the tooth becomes weaker. This is why your dentist will tell you that you’ll need to have a follow-up procedure to place a crown on the tooth. The crown sits over the tooth and makes it stronger.

How Long Will It Take?

You can expect to spend several hours at your dentist’s office and during most of that time, your mouth will need to be open as wide as possible so the dentist can work. For many people that becomes very uncomfortable after just a few minutes. The dentist may have music or an audiobook to help distract you, or you can bring something yourself.

The Process Itself

Before your dentist starts to scrape out the insides of a tooth, he or she will give you an anesthetic to numb your entire mouth. This will be stronger than what you would be given for something like a filling due to the fact that the dentist will be removing a nerve. During the procedure itself, you should feel no pain at all. X-rays will then be done to make certain that everything is lined up and prepared to remove the root.

It’s possible your dentist will want to do the root canal over the course of several visits. That is an option, and some dentists prefer doing it that way. Neither way is better than the other, so it comes down to your dentist’s preference and what you want to do.

Covid-19 and your care

We have now received clear guidance as to what dental procedures we can safely carry out and at what stages during the pandemic.

Below is a summary of the guidance as we understand it, although this may modify over the next few days as some small inconsistencies are clarified.

The government has set five different risk levels for the pandemic 1-5 (low to high), although this changes on a daily basis.

The treatments that we can carry out safely in dental practice will change with the risk level.

Treatments are significantly limited at level 4.

During the next few weeks, we will attempt to contact each patient that has contacted us with a significant dental problem during lockdown, and we hope to book an assessment appointment for those patients in the week commencing 8th June.

Practice doors will be locked at level 3, 4 and 5. Entry to the practice will be limited to pre-booked appointments.

There will be very clear criteria provided in due course as what is required before arriving at the practice, and what the procedure will be upon arrival. We will endeavour to ensure that each person knows exactly what to expect at their visit as this will be quite different to what you have been used to.

The appointment diary will be structured to take into consideration those patients who are shielding, may have underlying medical issues and so on.

The first week is expected to be a slow start as we ensure that the new protocols are working effectively for everyone’s safety. These protocols will be audited and modified until required.

At level 4 we should be able to carry out the following:

Dental assessment (initially restricted to patients who have current urgent need, or did and contacted us during lockdown).

X rays but only for patients who tolerate them well.

TEMPORARY re cementation of crowns. (We cannot dry the tooth effectively enough to cement a crown permanently with the restrictions we face).

Fabrication or repair of removable dentures.

Simple dental extractions. If a tooth breaks, it is probable we will have to leave the roots in place until we are at a lower level of risk. Naturally, we will assess the risk very carefully prior to treatment.

Tightening of loose dental implants if possible, without using a high-speed handpiece (drill).

Temporary fillings.

Draining of a swelling/abscess.

Provision of antibiotics.

Trimming of sharp orthodontic wires (not reliable re cementation of loose brackets, or replacement of missing brackets).

Treatment is only to be offered after careful assessment.

Cosmetic orthodontics

Cheshire Dental Centre provide many of these treatments. We may now be able to progress some of our Quick Straight Teeth cases. We will be in touch with each patient shortly, but please allow us to contact you; we hope that it is understandable that we will be prioritising patients with urgent dental need.

The PPE (personal protective equipment) requirements for the above are not too onerous, and we will not look too different to normal. As you are aware, the cross-infection control at Cheshire Dental Centre has always been exemplary and one of our top priorities.

Although we have been organised with the new PPE guidelines well in advance there may be the occasional time where we are awaiting stock. All practices are attempting to source the necessary PPE we need to keep you and us safe, but supplies are scarce and consequently very expensive.