Has your dentist told you that you need root canal treatment? If so, you’re not alone.
Before you get that decaying tooth extracted, it won’t be a bad idea discussing the options of saving your tooth. One of such options is root canal treatment.
Millions of teeth are treated and saved each year with the root canal, or endodontic, treatment.
Getting a tooth extracted has its own long term negative effects in the mouth.
We have highlighted, thanks to the American Association of Endodontists the important pieces of information you must know about this root canal treatment.
What is Root Canal Treatment?
A “root canal” is not a treatment, but part of a tooth. It is the hollow section of a tooth that contains the nerve tissue, blood vessels, and other cells, also known as the pulp.
A tooth consists of a crown and roots. The crown is mainly above the gum, while the roots are below it. The roots attach the tooth to the jawbone.
Inside the crown and the root, or the root canal, is the pulp. The pulp nourishes the tooth and provides moisture to the surrounding material. The nerves in the pulp sense hot and cold temperatures as pain.
The name of the dental procedure commonly referred to as a “root canal” is actually endodontic therapy, which means “inside the tooth.”
How to know if you need a root canal?
Root canal treatment is necessary when the pulp, the soft tissue inside the root canal, becomes inflamed or infected. The inflammation or infection can have a variety of causes: deep decay repeated dental procedures on the tooth or a crack or chip in the tooth. In addition, an injury to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if the tooth has no visible chips or cracks. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.
What are the signs of needing a root canal?
There are a few symptoms that mean you might need a root canal—
- Severe pain while chewing or biting
- Pimples on the gums
- A chipped or cracked tooth
- Lingering sensitivity to hot or cold, even after the sensation has been removed
- Swollen or tender gums
- Deep decay or darkening of the gums
How does endodontic treatment save the tooth?
The dentist removes the inflamed or infected pulp, carefully cleans and shapes the inside of the root canal, then fills and seals the space. Afterward, you will return to your dentist, who will place a crown or other restoration on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function. After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.
Will I feel pain during or after the root canal?
Many endodontic procedures are performed to relieve the pain of toothaches caused by pulp inflammation or infection. With modern techniques and anesthetics, most patients report that they are comfortable during the procedure.
For the first few days after treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. This discomfort can be relieved with over-the-counter or prescription medications. Follow your endodontist’s instructions carefully.
Your tooth may continue to feel slightly different from your other teeth for some time after your endodontic treatment is completed. However, if you have severe pain or pressure or pain that lasts more than a few days call your endodontist.
What are the Steps Involved?
Root canal treatment can often be performed in one or two visits and involves the following steps:
- The dentist examines and takes a radiograph of the tooth using x-rays, then administers local anesthetic. After the tooth is numb, Ideally, the dentist places a small protective sheet called a “dental dam” over the area to isolate the tooth and keep it clean and free of saliva during the procedure.
- The endodontist makes an opening in the crown of the tooth. Very small instruments are used to clean the pulp from the pulp chamber and root canals and to shape the space for filling.
- After space is cleaned and shaped, the dentist fills the root canals with a biocompatible material, usually a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. The gutta-percha is placed with an adhesive cement to ensure complete sealing of the root canals. In most cases, a temporary filling is placed to close the opening. The temporary filling will be removed by your dentist before the tooth is restored.
- After the final visit with your dentist, you must return to your dentist to have a crown or other restoration placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to full function.
If the tooth lacks sufficient structure to hold the restoration in place, your dentist may place a post inside the tooth. Ask your dentist for more details about the specific restoration planned for your tooth.
How much will the root canal procedure cost?
The cost varies depending on how complex the problem is and which tooth is affected. Molars are more difficult to treat; the fee is usually more.
Generally, endodontic treatment and restoration of the natural tooth are less expensive than the alternative of having the tooth extracted. An extracted tooth must be replaced with an implant or bridge to restore chewing function and prevent adjacent teeth from shifting. These procedures tend to cost more than root canal treatment and appropriate restoration.
Can a root canal fail?
Root canals can fail for a variety of reasons, including a procedure that didn’t clean the canals to begin with, a breakdown of the crown or its inner sealant, or essentially anything that allows the tooth that previously had a root canal treatment to become infected at the root and affect other teeth.
What happens if you don’t get a root canal?
If left untreated, the infection in the tooth can spread to other parts of the body, and in some cases can even be life threatening. If you are in need of a root canal, the infected pulp in the tooth needs to be removed.