Root Canal Treatment
A root canal is a treatment that is used for repairing and saving an infected tooth which has been badly damaged, rather than removing it. `Root canal’ is a term that comes from cleaning the canals inside the root of a tooth. Few decades ago, root canal treatments were painful procedures. But with advances in dentistry as well as local anesthetics, today people who go through this procedure, experience very little or no pain. There are however, alternatives to root canal treatment, which include extracting the damaged tooth, replacing it with a dental implant, bridge or a removal partial denture. A root canal is performed by a general dentist or an endodontist in the majority of cases, while the patient is under local anesthesia.
Why it is performed
A root canal is performed when the soft core in the tooth called the pulp, gets inflamed, injured or infected. The pulp has nerves, blood vessels as well as connective tissue. When a tooth gets cracked or has a deep cavity, bacteria can enter the pulp. If left untreated, bacteria and decaying material can lead to a serious infection or a tooth abscess, which will lead to pulp death or bone loss and even loss of the tooth itself. Symptoms include swelling around your face or neck, a hole in the tooth, gum swelling, toothache as well as temperature sensitivity. Your dentist will examine your painful tooth and the diagnosis will be confirmed through X-Rays.
Some of the causes that lead to the pulp getting damaged include:
- Untreated cavity leading to deep decay
- Dental procedures performed multiple times on the same tooth
- An injury to the tooth
- A crack or a chip in the tooth
A root canal is performed generally by a dentist. The dentist will first use numbing medication on your gum near the affected tooth and once it takes effect, he will inject a local anesthetic into the gums. Though this might cause a sharp pinch or a burning sensation, this won’t take much time to pass.
After your tooth becomes numb, your dentist will create a small opening at the top of the tooth. After the infected or damaged pulp is exposed, the specialist will remove it using special tools, which are known as files. They will also be extra careful to clean out the pathways or canals in your tooth.
Once the pulp is removed, the dentist can coat the area with a topical antibiotic for ensuring that the infection is gone and to prevent any further reinfection. After the canals are cleaned as well as disinfected, your dentist will seal the tooth with a sealer paste and rubber-like material called gutta-percha. They might prescribe oral antibiotics as well.
The procedure will end after your dentist fills the small opening at the top of the tooth with a temporary material. This will prevent your saliva from causing damage to the canals.
When the numbing medication wears off, your tooth and gums might feel sore. You might experience swelling in the gums as well. Many dentists usually treat these symptoms using over-the-counter pain medications, such as acetaminophen or ibuprofen. If your pain becomes extreme or if it lasts for multiple days, then you need to contact your dentist
You might be able to resume your normal just the day after the procedure is performed. Try not to chew with the damaged tooth, until it has been filled permanently or a crown isn’t placed over the top.
After some days, you can see your dentist again and they’ll take X-rays and make sure that the infection is no more. If you prefer, you can also let your dentist place a permanent crown on your tooth. Crowns are artificial teeth made of porcelain or gold. Be noted that it might take you weeks to get used to how your tooth feels after your procedure.
Though a root canal is performed to save your tooth, sometimes however, the damage is too deep in order to withdraw the procedure. This can eventually result in you losing your tooth.
There is another risk, which involves developing an abscess at the root of your tooth. This can happen when some of the infected materials remain behind or if the antibiotics are ineffective.
If you’re unsure regarding a root canal, talk to your dentist regarding an extraction. This will involve placing a partial denture, implant or bridge in the place of the damaged tooth.