What is a Root Canal?
Root Canal is a term for an endodontic treatment or procedure. Root canal treatment is necessary when the pulp also known as the nerve, inside the tooth is irreversibly damaged due to an infection. This irreversible damage is a result of combined injuries that occur over the lifespan of the tooth (decay, trauma, multiple restorations). The treatment involves removing the entire pulp throughout the root canal system. The dentist first cleans the tooth and consequently shapes the canal system. Eventually, the dentist fills the canals with a polyester synthetic root canal filling and a dental sealer.
Why does one need a Root Canal Treatment?
If the pulp in your tooth is infected, the infection subsequently spreads through the root canal system of the tooth. This eventually leads to an abscess. An abscess is an inflamed area in which the pus deposits and consequently causes the swelling of tissues around the tooth. The symptoms of an abscess can range from a dull ache to severe pain and the tooth usually goes tender when you take a bite. If the root canal treatment is not carried out the infection spreads further and the tooth may have to be extracted.
Is the procedure painful?
It is rare to have any sensation in the tooth owing to modern techniques along with varied and vast local anaesthetic solutions. Your tooth is usually quite sensitive after the first few days of the treatment. The dentist relieves the pain and sensitivity by prescribing the appropriate medication.
What does the treatment involve?
The treatment focusses on removing the infection from the root canal. The dentist cleans the root and subsequently fills it to prevent any further infection.
Root canal treatment is a skilled and time-consuming procedure. The treatment involves two or more visits to your dentist.
At the first appointment, the dentist removes the infected pulp and subsequently drains out any abscess present. Post this, the dentist cleans the canal and consequently gets it ready for the filling. The dentist then puts in the temporary filling and the tooth is left to settle. Finally, the dentist checks if the infection still persists and eventually fills the tooth permanently.
In conclusion, the dentist may call the patient in a few weeks to check if the infection is relapsing.
Will it hurt afterwards?
In most cases, the discomfort subsides within the first 24-48 hours. Any painful sensitivity to cold or hot food and beverages subsides as well. Nonetheless, you may experience mild discomfort from the pressure that lasts for a few days after treatment. Taking over-the-counter anti-inflammatory analgesics more often then not, relieves this discomfort.
The most common symptom of post-treatment pain is the pre-treatment pain. The root canal procedure eliminates the cause and allows healing to begin. During the first 72 – 96 hrs the dentist prescribes an analgesic regimen that allows the healing to begin without any pain.
Few of the common complaints are tenderness to touch, bite, tapping or chewing on the tooth. The dentists usually suggest chewing on the other side until a permanent restoration replaces the temporary restoration.
What if it happens again?
It is noteworthy that the complex and skilled root canal treatment has a great success rate. However, in the rare case of the infection relapsing, the dentist repeats the treatment.
What if I skip the treatment?
If you do not undergo the treatment, it is advisable to extract the tooth. However, dentists do not recommend this process.
Although some people do prefer the tooth extraction, keeping as many natural teeth as possible is a good practice. Incidentally, tooth extraction may lead to other complications at a later stage.
Benefits of Root Canal Therapy Versus Extraction
The most significant benefit of root canal therapy is that you keep your tooth. Extraction, under certain circumstances, leads to other dental problems. For instance – drifting of teeth, bite problems, TMJ discomfort, and the need to treat adjacent teeth that do not otherwise need dental treatment to restore the missing tooth. No matter how effective modern tooth replacements are nothing is a good as your natural tooth.
What about post-treatment care?
Dentists advise to treating the root canal tooth in the same way as any other tooth. It is advisable to clean your teeth for two minutes, twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. See your dentist at least once in every 6 months for a regular checkup. Additionally, take a conscious effort to maintain good dental hygiene coupled with cutting down on food and drinks which have high sugar content.
What is the cost of the Root canal treatment?
For treatment cost – click here