A root canal is a procedure in which the dentist drills down into the tooth and removes the nerves from the root of the tooth. The canal that is left behind is then filled with a hard material that will help support the upper part of the tooth, as well as keep what is left of the root stable and in place. Once the canal has been filled, a temporary crown may be put in place to allow the tooth to heal. Eventually, the temporary crown will be replaced with a permanent one. Because the procedure deals with the removal of the nerves within the root of the tooth, it can be extremely uncomfortable. In most cases, the dentist will offer some sort of sedation for patients who need to have one or more root canals performed at a single visit.
The amount of time it takes to heal will depend on several factors. The main factor when it comes to healing is how long it takes to get rid of any infection that may have been present. Once the infection is cleared away, the rest of the healing process should go rather quickly as long as the patient follows the dentist's orders. It can take anywhere from one to three weeks for the healing process to be complete. After the area has thoroughly healed, the dentist can remove the temporary crown and replace it with a permanent one. The doctor will want to check the area at the next annual exam to determine whether or not the area healed sufficiently and if any further changes need to be made to the crown.
A root canal can be extremely uncomfortable. If the dentist knows that the patient may have a difficult time making it through the procedure with a local anesthetic, he may offer the patient the option of being sedated during the procedure. This means that the patient will be given enough anesthesia to make them comfortable and fully relaxed, but still coherent enough to answer questions and understand what is going on around them. If the dentist plans on performing more than one root canal or dental procedure during one visit, he may choose to put the patient completely under to eliminate any discomfort and keep from becoming anxious.
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