Most people are familiar with root canal treatment. However, for the sake of those who do not fully understand root canal procedures, this article explains the basics.
What Is Root Canal?
The root canal is the pulp cavity of the tooth and contains the pulp, nerves, and blood vessels.
What Is Root Canal Treatment?
A root canal treatment is a series of dental treatments in which infected tissues in the root canal are removed and replaced with a dental material. This dental procedure eliminates bacterial infection and protects the treated tooth from future bacterial invasion.
A root canal procedure, otherwise known as an endodontic treatment, involves the removal of dead, infected, or inflamed dental pulp from the tooth. Found in the tooth’s center cavity or root canal, the dental pulp is a soft material consisting of the nerves and blood vessels that supply the tooth with blood and “life”.
Why Do You Need A Root Canal Procedure?
Some dental care practices and dental conditions can lead to bacterial infections in the dental pulp that call for a root canal procedure. If you have experienced or are experiencing any of these dental conditions and practices, you may need a root canal procedure:
- A tooth that has received multiple dental procedures
- A tooth that has received some impact or trauma with or without visible effects
- A cracked or chipped tooth
- A tooth with deep dental cavities
- Poor oral hygiene
- An unhealthy lifestyle
- Abrasive tooth use
Causes of Root Canal Infection
Common Causes for Root Canals Infection:
- Dental cavities (dental caries) penetrate the tooth enamel into the pulp cavity and cause root canal infection.
- Dental damage such as cracks and chips lead to dental decay and subsequently root canal infection.
- Dental diseases caused by severe dental decay, trauma to the tooth, recent dental procedures, large dental fillings, etc. affect the tooth.
Signs and Symptoms of Root Canal Infection
- Abscess formation, inflammation, or swelling of the gums around the affected tooth
- Gum tenderness when biting or chewing on the affected side
- Serious and persistent tooth pain when eating or chewing or sensitivity to exerted pressure on the affected area (Note: not all tooth pains are signs of root canal infection)
- Hyper sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks
- Darkening of the affected tooth or tooth discoloration
- Small lump growth on the gum around the affected tooth
Sometimes, patients with root canal infection may not feel any sign or symptoms. However, a common symptom of root canal infection is severe dental pain stemming from the untreated infected or injured pulp.
Root Canal Procedure
Root canal treatment follows a straightforward procedure with simple steps, which include:
- Visiting the dentist who takes an x-ray of the affected tooth to determine whether the tooth is indeed infected and needs a root canal treatment
- Numbing the affected area with local anesthesia to numb the pain during the procedure
- Using a rubber dam to isolate the affected tooth from saliva and surrounding environment
- Drilling a hole into the affected tooth using a dental bur to gain access to the pulp cavity
- Removing the infected or dead pulp, nerve, and tissues and cleaning out the pulp cavity properly
- Filling the pulp cavity with inert rubber like dental material referred to as gutta-percha, after cleaning and shaping it. (Note: Gutta-percha is safe and biocompatible with your tooth)
- Restoring the tooth crown using either a temporary or a permanent filling
It’s possible to carry out a root canal procedure in just one day (one-visit RCT), to help reduce the root canal time. However, your dentist may recommend a two-visit RCT (depending on your dental condition) wherein both visits are spaced out by a week. A two-visit RCT is usually recommended if you’re experiencing severe pain, tenderness and swelling from the affected tooth at the time of dental consultation.
After undergoing a root canal procedure, you must observe good and proper aftercare for the newly treated tooth. After the treatment, avoid chewing with the newly treated fragile tooth before your dentist has placed the permanent filling or crown.
How Long Does A Root Canal Take?
With the recent advancement in dental technology, root canal treatments can be carried out in one dental visit to shorten the root canal time. Recent technology brings more efficient ways to complete a root canal procedure in a single dental visit, becoming a popular method among dental practitioners today.
Simple or minor root canal cases usually take about 30 to 60 minutes of treatment, while a more complex case takes a longer root canal time of about 90 minutes. A root canal procedure’s progress depends on several factors, such as the length of time and patient’s ability to sit mouth wide open, the roots’ shape or anatomy, and the tooth itself. Although the thought of undergoing a root canal procedure can cause fear and anxiety among patients, the root canal treatment is a safe and effective solution.
Is Root Canal Treatment Very Painful?
Root canal treatment is designed to take away pain from the tooth. Nevertheless, the invasive procedure can cause some pain and discomfort that is managed by anesthesia. Pain and discomfort can also return once effects of the anesthesia subside. Prescription painkillers and over-the-counter medications help with continued pain management. Patients should seek immediate consultation with their dentist for re-evaluation if their pain persists or worsens after the procedure.
To learn more about root canal treatment, schedule a consultation with any of our professional dentists today.