What Is a Root Canal Treatment?
Root canal treatment is generally recommended when the pulp inside a tooth is infected or inflamed. Infection may lead to tooth pain, swelling and, eventually, tooth discoloration, if proper care is not taken in a timely manner. Despite what you may have heard, root canal treatment is conducted by a dentist to remove bacteria and dying tissue from inside the tooth to eventually save the tooth – not to cause you more pain.
Even if the tooth is severely infected, modern techniques, cutting-edge technology, and effective anesthesia have turned this procedure into a relatively comfortable and virtually painless treatment. After the procedure, you might even be left with less discomfort than you would have had you extracted the tooth. You will only be required to visit a dentist or an endodontist one or two times to complete the treatment.
When Do You Need to Get a Root Canal Treatment?
Root canal treatments are only recommended when there is an infection or inflammation deep within a tooth. There are a whole host of clinical reasons for needing root canal treatments:
- Untreated cavity
- Deep tooth decay
- Recurrent dental procedures on the tooth
- Damaged crown
- Crack in the tooth
- Injury to the tooth
- Pulp damage
If you choose to not get treated, pulp inflammation or infection will cause you a lot of pain, can lead to an abscess and may result in you losing a tooth. Root canal treatment, also known as an endodontic procedure, can save your natural tooth. This procedure can, hence, help you preserve your natural smile, help you continue to eat normally and can also limit the need for constant dental work. And if you care for your teeth properly after the treatment, your teeth can even last a lifetime.
Why Get a Root Canal Treatment?
Undergoing endodontic treatment entails removing the inflamed or infected pulp and carefully cleaning and disinfecting the tooth. The tooth is then filled and sealed with a rubber-like material before being restored with a crown or filling for protection. So why get it?
1. To save your natural tooth.
As mentioned above, saving your natural tooth means that you do not have to adjust your way of life. You will be able to eat normally, and you will not need constant dental work. Additionally, it has been proven that teeth that have undergone root canal treatment tend to last for a long time.
2. It is a pain-free procedure.
Unlike tooth extraction, endodontic treatment is a practically painless procedure. It also means that you will need less time to recover than you would have had you gotten your natural tooth extracted.
3. It is more cost-effective than tooth extraction.
Not only does tooth extraction take longer to treat due to mandatory follow-up appointments, but they also tend to be more expensive. Root canal treatment, on the other hand, requires fewer follow-up appointments and are most often than not covered by dental insurance plans.
4. It is more visually appealing.
Since crowns look a lot like natural teeth, endodontic treatments can in fact help improve your smile.
Step by Step Guide to Root Canal Treatment Is Performed
A root canal treatment is performed over two office visits and essentially involves four steps:
The treatment starts with the dentist administering local anesthesia through a needle to numb the affected tooth. Do not be alarmed if you feel a small pain when the needle goes in, this is completely normal. Once the tooth goes numb, the dentist will place a small sheet of rubber around the tooth to isolate it and keep it clean and dry.
The endodontist will then proceed to drill a small hole in the top portion of the tooth so he or she can remove the injured and infected pulp. He or she will then shape the inner chamber of the tooth and root and put an antimicrobial solution to exterminate any residual bacteria.
Once dried, the dentist will fill the chamber with a material called gutta-percha. A temporary filling will then be used to protect your tooth while awaiting the permanent crown. You will generally have to wait a few weeks for the last step.
Before the final and last stage, the dentist might ask you to get an X-ray done to ensure that all signs of infections are gone. If everything is okay, he or she will place a permanent crown on the top of the tooth.
After a root canal treatment, it is important to maintain a good oral care routine at home even if you experience pain and sensitivity in that tooth. After a root canal procedure, it is imperative for you to follow your dentist’s instructions to protect your restored tooth. The guidelines offered by your dentist will include a list of food you can and cannot eat during the recovery period. Even if it’s inconvenient, be sure to follow them for healthy, fully restored teeth.