Root Canal Treatments
What is a Root Canal treatment?
A root canal treatment is a procedure used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or becomes infected.
What are the steps?
Before the beginning of the procedure an X-ray is taken to see the shape of the root canals and determine if there are any signs of infection in a surrounding bone and extent of the infection.
Root canal therapy is done in three steps:
1. Cleaning the root canal
With the patient under local anesthesia, the dentist makes a small access hole on the surface of the tooth and removes the diseased and dead pulp tissue with very small files.
2. Filling the root canal
Next, the dentist cleans, shapes and decontaminates the hollow area, using tiny files and irrigation solutions. Then, the tooth is filled with a rubber-like material, using an adhesive cement to seal the canals completely.
After root canal therapy, the patient will no longer feel any pain in that tooth because the nerve tissue has been removed, and the infection has been eliminated.
3. Placement of a crown or filling
However, after the procedure the tooth will become more fragile than it was before. A tooth with no pulp must receive its nourishment from the ligament that attaches the tooth to the bone. This supply is adequate, but in time, the tooth will become more brittle, so a crown or filling offers protection.
Until the crown or filling is complete, the patient is advised not to chew or bite on the treated tooth. Once the crown or filling is placed, the person can use the tooth as before.
Treatment often takes only one appointment, but if there are curved canals, extra canals, or large infections, this could take one or two additional appointments.
Why Does Tooth Pulp Need to Be Removed?
When a tooth’s nerve tissue or pulp is damaged, it breaks down and bacteria begin to multiply within the pulp chamber. The bacteria and other decayed debris can cause an infection or an abscess. An abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms at the end of the roots of the tooth. An abscess occurs when the infection spreads all the way past the ends of the roots of the tooth. In addition to an abscess, an infection in the root canal of a tooth can cause:
Swelling that may spread to other areas of the face, neck, or head
Bone loss around the tip of the root
Drainage problems extending outward from the root. A hole can occur through the side of the tooth with drainage into the gums or through the cheek with drainage into the skin.
What are the benefits of saving the natural tooth?
There are many clinical reasons for needing root canal treatment, but there are also countless practical reasons why saving the natural tooth is a wise choice. Endodontic treatment helps you maintain your natural smile, continue eating the food you love and limits the need for ongoing dental work. With proper care, most teeth that have had root canal treatment can last a lifetime.
Some patients may experience tooth pain initially and then it goes away on its own or with the help of antibiotics. Just because it has stopped hurting doesn’t mean it is no longer infected. Root canal treatment is designed to disinfect the inside of the tooth (the source of infection) and stop the spread of infection.
Prior to performing any root canal, the endodontist will thoroughly examine all radiographic and clinical findings to determine if a root canal is indicated.
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.
No. While x-rays will be necessary during your endodontic treatment, we use an advanced non-film computerized system, called digital radiography that produces radiation levels up to 90 percent lower than those of already low dose conventional dental x-ray machinery.
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.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.
The post-treatment guidelines of root canal treatment include:
- Take the antibiotics as advised by the dentist.
- Maintaining good oral hygiene is extremely important, with regular brushing and teeth flossing.
It is advisable to not eat or drink anything for a couple of hours after root canal treatment. Since the treated area is numb, there are chances of accidentally biting your teeth or tongue while eating. You can eat after the numbness wears off.
Your tooth may feel sensitive for a few days, but any discomfort can usually be relieved with over-the-counter pain medication or anti-inflammatories. You will be instructed to avoid chewing on that tooth until it receives its permanent filling, which can be placed a few days later. Depending on how damaged the tooth was to begin with, it may need a full-coverage crown. Those options will be discussed with you.
A common side effect of root canal treatment is a dull pain in the tooth following the procedure which is a normal part of the healing process. It usually vanishes within a week after the treatment. However, if the pain persists it is advisable to visit the doctor.