The inner part of the tooth or the pulp contains nerve endings and blood vessels. But a full-grown tooth can survive even is the pulp is removed as it can be nourished by the surrounding tissues. During a root canal, the infected pulp is removed in order to save a badly damaged or decayed tooth. Then the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed to prevent any further damage. If the pulp is not removed, the surrounding tissue will get infected and lead to the formation of abscesses. The bacteria can also affect the bone and cause immense damage to the tooth structure.
The symptom of severe tooth decay can be a toothache or temperature sensitivity. At times, a deep cavity can also reach the pulp and start an infecting. Since the entire process of the root canal is done under local anesthesia, it is not a painful process at all. While some people prefer a tooth extraction, that can affect the surrounding tooth and can also cause a change in the bite. So root canal is a great alternative to having a tooth extracted.
The process of the root canal is done in three stages and it can take up to three sessions with a dentist. In the first stage, a very small hole is made on the surface of the teeth and the infected pulp is cleaned by special instruments. The second stage involves the cleaning and shaping of the hollow area. A special rubber-like material is used to fill the canals. In the final stage, the remaining part of the tooth is protected by the application of a crown. Unless the crown is placed, the patient is advised not to chew with the tooth.
Right Choice Dental Care specializes in gentle dentistry that makes sure that the patient remains comfortable at all times during a root canal treatment.
What is a root canal and why do I need root canal treatment?
Endodontic (root canal) treatment treats the inside of the tooth. Endodontic treatment is necessary when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: deep decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, faulty crowns, or a crack or chip in the tooth. In addition, trauma to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.
During root canal treatment, the inflamed or infected pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. Afterward, the tooth is restored with a crown or filling for protection. After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.
Is root canal treatment painful?
Today, getting root canal treatment is often no more uncomfortable than having a filling. In fact, root canal treatment doesn’t cause pain but actually relieves it. Advances have made the treatment a virtually pain-free experience, many times accomplished in a single visit. Endodontists understand a great deal about pain management. With modern techniques and anesthetics, the vast majority of patients report that they are comfortable during the procedure.
What will happen during the procedure?
After numbing the area, a tiny hole in the crown (top) of your tooth is made to access the pulp chamber and canals. The diseased tissue is removed, and the pulp chamber and the canal(s) are disinfected all the way to the root end(s). Teeth in the front of the mouth have one root and generally one canal; back teeth have two or three roots and generally three or four canals. Those canals and the pulp chamber are filled with an inert, biocompatible material, and sealed with adhesive cement. The access hole will receive a temporary filling.
Would extraction (pulling the tooth) be a better alternative?
Saving your natural teeth, if possible, is the very best option. Nothing can completely replace your natural tooth. An artificial tooth can sometimes cause you to avoid certain foods. Keeping your own teeth is important so that you can continue to enjoy the wide variety of foods necessary to maintain the proper nutrient balance in your diet. If your dentist recommends extraction, ask whether root canal treatment is an option.
Endodontic treatment, along with appropriate restoration, is a cost-effective way to treat teeth with a damaged pulp and is usually less expensive than extraction and placement of a bridge or an implant. Endodontic treatment also has a very high success rate. Many root canal treated teeth last a lifetime. Placement of a bridge or an implant will require significantly more time in treatment and may result in further procedures to adjacent teeth and supporting tissues.
What happens after my root canal is done?
When your root canal treatment has been completed, a report of your treatment will be sent to your dentist. You will need to contact their office for a follow-up restoration within 30 days of completion at our office. Your dentist will decide on what type of restoration is necessary to protect your tooth.
How long does a root canal take?
The amount of time a procedure takes depends on the details of the procedure you’re having and the type of tooth involved. We estimate your time in the office to last approximately 1-2 hours. The treatment itself can often be completed in one visit. At times, a second appointment may be needed.
How can I avoid the need for root canal treatment in the future?
Here's what you can do to protect your teeth and prevent a need for endodontic therapy:
- Probably the most obvious: care for your mouth! - Sticking to a proper oral care routine (which includes brushing twice daily, flossing once, and seeing your dentist for routine exams and cleanings) will play a big role in decay prevention. The healthier and cleaner your mouth is, the lower your risk for decay penetrating through your tooth’s layers and causing problems. In addition to this, repeated dental procedures pose a risk to the health and strength of your tooth – so working towards avoiding the need for restorative work in general is a smart idea.
- Avoid biting down on hard foods or objects. - Biting down on hard materials can lead to unexpected fractures or cracks in the teeth. Your teeth may have been able to handle excessive force for all of these years, but you never know when an accident will decide to strike. A break in the tooth creates an access for bacteria and infection, or trauma can sever a nerve and kill it. Ouch! This is when root canal treatment is often required.
- Wear a mouthguard if you have a teeth grinding issue. - Some patients have a habit of grinding their teeth together, especially while they sleep when they may be unaware they’re even doing it. If you think you may have a problem with bruxism, see your dentist about getting a custom fitted night guard to protect your teeth from wear and potentially significant damage. Wear a sport guard if you play. - If you engage in competitive physical activity or sport, be smart and wear a sport guard! Some of the worst dental injuries can occur in athletes, so always protect yourself.