Millions of teeth are treated and saved through root canal each year, relieving pain and making teeth healthy again. Despite what you may have heard or read online, this procedure is not to cause you immense pain. Modern techniques have helped root canals evolve into relatively comfortable and painless treatments. It usually requires no more than one or two appointments, depending on the condition of your tooth.
Getting a root canal is comparatively painless and extremely effective. It is done to save a tooth that is severely infected by bacteria and dead tissue inside. After the procedure, you’ll be back to smiling, biting, and chewing with ease in no time.
When Is Root Canal Needed?
Oftentimes, root canals are recommended for infections deep within the tooth. The pulp, a tissue containing blood vessels, connective tissues, and nerves inside the tooth can become infected with bacteria caused by an injury or untreated cavity. Without treatment, the infection can become severe enough which may lead to teeth removal.
Symptoms of Pulp Infection:
✓ Pain when eating or drinking hot or cold foods and drinks
✓ Pain when biting or chewing
✓ Loose tooth
✓ Swelling of the gum near the affected tooth
✓ Tooth discoloration
✓ Pus from the affected tooth
The pulp cannot heal by itself. Antibiotics cannot help as much either. As the infection progresses, some symptoms may disappear. This may make you think that your tooth has healed but the infection has in fact grew and spread throughout the root canal system.
Stages of Root Canal Treatment
How Is Root Canal Treatment Performed?
Before having a root canal treatment, your dentist will take a series of X-rays to better assess the extent of damage to the infected tooth. The procedure is usually carried out under local anesthesia. However, if the tooth has died and is no longer sensitive, it may be unnecessary to use a local anesthesia.
After the tooth is numb, your dentist will place a rubber sheet (dam) around the tooth to ensure it is dry during treatment. This will also prevent you from swallowing or breathing in any chemicals during the treatment.
Your dentist will then use small tools to access the inside of the tooth through an opening at the top, clearing away the damaged and diseased pulp from the inside. Your dentist might also put an antimicrobial solution in the chamber to kill any remaining bacteria and reduce the risk of further infection.
Once the chamber is thoroughly cleaned and dried, the next step is to close it with a temporary filling. Your next visit after a few weeks will be the replacement of the temporary filling with a permanent crown made from metal, porcelain, ceramic, powder glass, or a similar type of restoration to finish the treatment. This, along with a filling, seals, protects, and prevents the tooth for possible reinfection.
Your front incisor and canine teeth (biting teeth) normally have a single root containing one root canal while the premolars and back molar teeth (chewing teeth) have two or three roots, each containing either one or two root canals. The more roots, the longer the treatment will take.
After your final treatment, your restored tooth should not be painful, although it may feel sensitive for a few days.
In about 9 out of 10 cases, a tooth can survive for up to 10 years after root canal treatment – given that you practice good oral hygiene. You might need to schedule an additional visit with your dentist to X-ray the treated tooth and make sure that all signs of infection are gone. It is important to keep up a good oral care routine, keep away from sugary foods, and avoid biting too hard after the procedure. With proper care and attention, a tooth treated with a root canal can stay healthy for the rest of your life.