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Root Canal Treatment also known as Endodontic Therapy is a dental procedure used for removing the inflammation or infection in the roots of a tooth.


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Root canal treatments are one of the most common dental procedures in the world. Despite this, many people don’t actually understand what this process is or even what it includes. So, if you have just been told that you need this treatment and not much else, it is natural to feel a bit worried.

Well, there’s no need to be concerned, though, as this is a fairly simple procedure. As long as you are relying on the best dentist possible, the treatment is sure to go off without a hitch. Still, it can be helpful for you to be aware of the following details regarding a root canal procedure…

What Is a Root Canal?

First things first, let’s take a look at what a “root canal” actually is. This is a term that is used to describe a natural cavity that can be found in the middle of your tooth. Some teeth can have more than one canal. Inside of this canal, you will find what is known as pulp. It is essentially soft tissue. Your tooth’s main nerve also resides within the canal.

When Is a Root Canal Treatment Required?

As you are well aware, there are certain types of bacteria in your mouth. Now, for the most part, their impact on your teeth is minimal. However, in certain instances, this bacteria can find its way into your tooth. This usually happens due to the tooth decay, loose fillings, or when you damage your teeth in some way.

When this bacteria enters the root canal, it infects the soft pulp. This type of infection can kill the pulp, allowing the bacteria to spread even further. When this happens, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Discomfort when chewing

  • Sensitivity when consuming drinks or foods that are either hot or cold

  • Loose teeth

Now, for a while, it may appear that your tooth problems are getting better. However, what is actually happening is that the infection is spreading. Since most of the pulp has died, though, you will not realise it for a while.

Once the infection progresses even more, you will notice that the symptoms begin to worsen. Some of the complications that may arise include:

  • Swelling of the gums near the infected site

  • Pus

  • Tooth becoming a darker shade

  • Face swelling up

To avoid these issues, it is best to head to a dentist when your tooth first begins to hurt. This can prevent the spread of the infection and will make it easier to save your tooth as well.

How a Root Canal Issue is Diagnosed

A dentist may be able to diagnose the issue simply by listening to your symptoms and then examining the tooth and surrounding area. Nonetheless, he or she will not make any decisions until they take an x-ray of your tooth. Signs of tooth decay and infection around the tooth should help to determine whether a root canal treatment is needed.

Once it has been determined that you need a root canal treatment, then your dentist may act quickly. While he or she will not carry out the procedure right there, they will ask you to visit them again rather soon. By undergoing the procedure sooner rather than later, you can stop the infection from spreading further.

What Does the Procedure Involve?

A root canal treatment may involve either one or more visits to the dentist’s office. Each case is different so it will be up to your dentist to decide just how they will proceed with it. To get a better understanding of what will take place during this time, though, check out this step by step process:

  1. The dentist anesthetises the area where the procedure will be performed.

  1. He or she will then place a dental dam around the affected tooth. This will prevent the bacteria from spreading and will also to work to keep that area free from saliva. The dental dam is often made from a thin sheet of latex.

  1. A small opening is made on the top of your tooth. This is how the dentist will access your root canals.

  1. The dentist will then use root canal files (tiny tools) to get into the root canals and remove dead pulp and bacteria from this area. Water is used to flush out the canals and keep them clean. After this is done, he or she will shape the canal for a later filling.

  1. If the surrounding area is affected quite badly, then the dentist will place some kind of medication in this area. It will then be topped up with a temporary filling and you will need to come back for the rest of the procedure. If this is not required, then he or she will proceed to the next step…

  1. The dentist will fill the empty space with a biocompatible substance. In most cases, this is something known as gutta-percha. It is a rubber-like substance and it is placed there along with an adhesive cement.

  1. If your tooth needs more structure, there is a chance that the dentist will recommend a post. This will help to hold the tooth in place and will ensure that it continues to function as normal.

  1. Once everything has settled, your dentist will place a crown as the final step.

Are Root Canal Treatments Painful?

Root canal treatments have a nasty reputation for being incredibly painful. This is why most people try to avoid them if possible. Well, if you are worried about the pain, there is no need to be. Remember, all dentists will provide you with a local anaesthetic. As such, you will feel no pain from the drilling, cleaning, or sealing up.

The only discomfort that you may feel is with the fact that you have to keep your mouth open for an extended period of time. Also, the feeling (or lack thereof) of numbness can be a little odd in the beginning. It may take some time to get used to.

What to Expect After the Procedure

Once the anaesthesia wears off, there is a chance that you will begin to experience some pain. This is quite normal and there may be some discomfort for around two days. If the pain persists, then you should contact your dentist.

In some cases, your dentist may inform you that prolonged soreness is quite normal. Understand, if the infection was quite bad, then your dentist will have needed to do quite a bit of work inside of your root canals. Adding to this, your body will require a greater amount of time to heal itself as well.

So, the tooth may feel not quite right for around six months or so. However, it is a good idea to keep your dentist updated so that you can deal with any unusual issues immediately.

If your root canal treatment has been spread over a number of visits, then you will probably be sent home with a temporary filling. It is important to know that these fillings aren’t very durable and can be loosened rather easily. Due to this, you will need to avoid chewing on the side of the filling until has been replaced with a crown.

In the event that you have been fitted with a temporary filling, you should make your next appointment as scheduled. This is because your dentist will be able to then give you a more permanent and secure covering. There will be fewer issues to worry about after that.

How Long is a Root Canal Treatment Effective For?

Most dentists will agree that root canal treatments are 95 percent effective. So, why is this procedure not completely efficient? Well, this would be due to the fact that some teeth can have a number of canals running to and from the teeth. As such, it can sometimes be tricky to remove all of the infected tissue. Therefore, there is a chance for the infection to make a reappearance.

A greater number of canals can also make it difficult for your dentist to seal up all of the entry points into the tooth. Once again, this leaves room for infection to start up in the tooth again. The good news, though, is that if your dentist is careful about cleaning and sealing up the root canals, then this is unlikely to take place.

Another benefit of a root canal treatment is that it doesn’t just have a high rate of success, it also helps the treated tooth to last longer. Now, without this procedure, there is a good chance that you will lose the tooth. However, if it is performed properly then it is possible for your tooth to actually last you a lifetime!

Follow Up Visits for a Root Canal Treatment

If all goes well, then you will not have to see your dentist for a while once the final phase of the root canal treatment has been completed. Still, you should make it a point to get a check-up after six months to ensure that the procedure was actually successful. If your dentist doesn’t notice any other issues, he or she may only ask you to return within five years’ time.

Nonetheless, it is a good idea to get regular check-ups – at least every year or so. Keep in mind, a root canal treatment doesn’t prevent other oral issues like cavities. And, since your root canals have been emptied of tissue, you will not feel pain with these problems and so, the issue may not be discovered until much later.

How to Maintain Your Root Canal Treatment

There are several things that you can do to ensure that your root canal treatment continues to be effective in the long run. By following the advice mentioned below, you can do a lot to ward off the risk of oral issues in the future…

First and foremost, you should always practice excellent oral hygiene. This means brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing as necessary. If your dentist recommends that you use a particular mouthwash, it is a good idea to do so. Certain medicated mouthwashes can help to stop bacteria from building up again.

It can also help to maintain a healthy diet and to limit your intake of sugary foods. Remember, your diet has a significant impact on your oral health. So, if you consume the right amount of nutrition and minimise the number of bad foods, then there is a lower chance of needing further work.

If you are a smoker, then you may want to give up this habit as well. People who smoke have a higher chance of developing root canal problems. So, if you stop smoking, the risk of future issues will drastically decline as well.

Of course, there is a limit to just how much you can look after your teeth and gums by yourself. This is why you should make it a point to visit your dentist at least every six months. If you have continued oral health conditions, your dentist may recommend that you make an appointment every three or four months instead.

Although this may seem like an additional hassle, it is important for you to show up to these appointments. By cleaning or treating your teeth more often, your dentist will be able to prevent further root canal problems. What’s more, if such problems were to flare up, your dentist will be able to catch these in their early stages.

Root Canal Treatment vs. Extraction

Now, when you see all of the steps involved in a root canal procedure, it is easy to wonder if your tooth should simply be extracted instead. This is something that your dentist may suggest if he or she feels as though they can’t save your tooth. The only reason that most dentists will recommend a root canal treatment first is because it involves less trouble for you in the long run.

Understand, once extracted, your tooth will require an implant and this may result in further appointments. With a root canal, however, you get to keep your original tooth which is best for chewing, biting, and more. In the end, it is your dentist who will be able to make the best decision for you.

These are all of the details that you need to understand regarding a root canal treatment. Now, if this is a procedure that you need to undergo, you will know exactly what to expect.