Root canal treatment belongs to the field of dentistry called endodontics, which deals with the nerve, or inner sensitive part of the tooth. The root canal treatment, and other procedures related to endodontics, have helped millions of patients to overcome their poor dental health and, regularly, reduce painful problems.
With root canal treatment, the dentist removes the inflamed, infected or necrotic (dead) nerve from inside your tooth, carefully cleaning the area and then inserting a root filling material where the nerve originally used to be. This prevents the tooth rot from being exposed, and protects the jaw from any possible infection that could enter trough the tooth.
Endodontic treatment, its evolution
Root canal treatment and other endodontic procedures have evolved notoriously in the last few years. Through endodontics, now it is possible to predict, treat and save a tooth which, just a few years ago, would have required extraction.
We have highly skilled professionals who will be glad to inform you about the endodontic treatment you need and answer your questions. You will be welcomed by kind professionals, with wide knowledge about the subject and who will be able to guide you throughout the treatment and ensure that you know everything about the treatment you need.
Root canal treatment procedure
- The first step in the procedure is to take x-rays to see the shape of the root Canals and determine if there are any signs of infections in the sorrounding bone. The dentist or endodontist will use local anesthetic to numb the area surrounding the tooth. Actually, anesthesia may not be necessary, since the nerve is already dead, but most dentists apply it just to make their patients feel more relaxed.
- Continuing with the procedure, the dentist will drill an access hole in the tooth The pulp with bacteria, the decayed nerve and related debris are removed from the tooth. The cleaning process will be performed using root canal files which have the form of needles. These root canal files are of different sizes and are placed along the tooth and the root canals. In general water or sodium hypoclorite is used to clean the debris.
- Once the tooth is completely cleaned, it must be sealed. Some dentists prefer to wait a week before sealing the tooth. For example, if there is an infection, your dentist may apply a medication inside your tooth to clean it up. Others may choose to seal the tooth the same day the tooth was cleaned. If the root canal is not completed the same day, a temporary filling is needed to fill the hole and avoid the tooth from being contaminated.
- At the next appointment, to fill the interior of the tooth, a sealer paste and a rubber compound called gutta percha are placed in the root canal of the tooth. To fill the exterior access hole created at the beginning of the treatment, the temporary filling is removed, and the final filling is placed.
- The last step involves the restoration of the tooth. Since a tooth that needs a root canal treatment is often one that has extensive decay or other serious problem, a crown or other kind of restoration is placed to repair and protect it, and avoid having it broken again so the tooth recovers its normal function.
What can you expect after a root canal treatment?
The root canal treatment should relieve the pain you feel. Until the root canal treatment is completed, you should avoid chewing with that tooth under repair. This step will help to prevent recontamination of the inner part of the tooth and can also prevent the fragile tooth from braking before being fully restored. The following days after the treatment is completed, you may feel the tooth sensitive due to inflammation of natural tissues. This sensitivity or discomfort can be reduced with over the counter medications such as ibuprofen.
Most patients can return to their activities the following day after the treatment.
Regarding oral health care, you should brush and clean regularly as you normally do and you should visit your dentist at regular intervals for control. Since the last step of the treatment is applying a restoration, such as a crown or filling, it will not be obvious to onlookers that you had a root canal treatment in that tooth.
Root canal treatment is highly successful; the procedure has 95% of successful cases. Many teeth repaired with the root canal treatment can last a lifetime.
Alternatives to a root canal treatment
Keeping your natural teeth is the best option, if possible, since they allow you to eat a wide variety of foods necessary to keep a good nutrition. The root canal treatment is the procedure of choice.
The only alternative to a root canal procedure is removing the tooth and replace it with a bridge, implant or removable partial denture to restore the chewing function and avoid the adjacent teeth from shifting. These alternatives require more treatment time and additional procedures in the adjacent teeth and supporting tissues.
Since some of the reasons why the nerve or pulp of a tooth is inflamed or infected is due to deep decay or repeated dental procedures on the same tooth, good oral hygiene practices (brushing your teeth twice a day, use dental floss once a day and schedule regular visits to your dentist) may reduce the need of a root canal procedure. Trauma resulting from sports-related injury can be reduced by wearing a mouth guard.
The pulp or pulp chamber is the soft area inside the tooth. The tooth nerve is inside the root canals, which are also inside the roots or "legs" of the tooth. The root canals go along from the tip of the tooth root to inside of the pulp chamber, which also contains blood vessels and connective tissue that nourish the tooth.
The tooth nerve is not vitally important for the health and function of the tooth after the tooth has emerged through the gums. Its only function is sensory, to provide the sensation of cold or hot. The presence or absence of the nerve will not affect the daily functioning of the tooth
Why does the pulp need to be removed?
When the nerve tissue or pulp is damaged, bacteria begin to multiply inside the pulp chamber. Bacteria and other decayed debris may cause an infection or abscessed tooth.
An abscess is a pus accumulation formed at the end of the tooth's roots. An abscess can be produced when the infection spreads all the way past the ends of the roots of the tooth. In addition to the abscess, an infection in the root canal of a tooth may cause:
- Swelling that may spread to other areas of the face, neck or head.
- Bone loss around the tip of the root.
- Drainage problems extending from the root outwards.
What damages a tooth's nerve an pulp in the first place?
The tooth's nerve and pulp can become irritated, inflamed or infected due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures on a tooth and/or large fillings, a crack or chip on the tooth, or a trauma to the face.
Signs that may indicate that you need a root canal treatment
- Intense toothache when chewing or applying pressure on it.
- Prolonged sensitivity/pain to heat or cold (after the cold or hot food has disappeared from the mouth).
- Discoloration (darkening) of the tooth.
- Swelling and tenderness of the nearby gums.
- Sometimes there are no symptoms.
Who has to perform the root canal treatment?
The root canal treatment may require one or more visits to your dentist's office and can be performed by a dentist or endodontist. An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in the causes, diagnosis, prevention and treatment of diseases and injuries in the dental pulp or nerve of the tooth. The choice of the dentist who will treat you depends, to some degree, on the difficulty of the root canal treatment your particular case may require.
You will be able to discuss with the first dentist you see who is the most suitable professional in the team to carry out your treatment.