A root canal procedure, also known as endodontic treatment, is a comfortable, painless, safe, and effective dental treatment to repair a decayed or infected tooth. Instead of extracting the tooth, a dentist will remove the damaged or infected pulp.
This is the soft inner layer that contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue and extends from the crown (the top part of a tooth) to the end of the root. A root canal is a passageway containing pulp that surrounds a tooth’s roots.
Why Is Root Canal Treatment Necessary?
Root canal treatment is only required when the pulp has become inflamed, infected, or died because of bacterial infection. The inflammation or infection may be caused by a tooth injury that lets in bacteria and compromises the pulp. Without treatment, the infection will remain, and so will the pain, which can be excruciating at times.
You may need endodontic treatment if you experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- A chipped or cracked tooth
- Small pimple-like bumps on the gums
- Severe pain while chewing or when you touch your tooth
- Gum swelling or tenderness near the painful tooth
- Sensitivity to hot and cold foods that lingers after the stimuli has been removed
- The tooth is becoming darker
- The tooth is loose
If you notice any of these symptoms, contact your dentist as soon as you can.
Root canal procedure – what ‘s involved?
Modern root canal treatment is a routine multi-step procedure to save teeth where a dentist will clean out the infected pulp and fill the canals. It may also be performed by an endodontist, a dentist that specialises in dental pulp diseases and injuries. After treatment, you’ll be back to chewing and biting with ease and without pain.
Root canal treatment typically takes one or more visits. The exact number depends on the condition of your tooth and whether there are any complications.
Here is a brief overview of what happens during each step of the process.
Before having root canal treatment the dentist may take a series of x-rays of the affected tooth to determine the extent of the infection.
The first step of the actual root canal procedure is a local anaesthetic that numbs the affected tooth and the area around it so that you won’t feel anything during the treatment. Your dentist then places a small protective sheet known as a dental dam around the tooth. This isolates the tooth and keeps it free from saliva.
Accessing the tooth’s Interior
A very small access hole is made in the crown of your tooth, the flat part at the top so the dentist can access the pulp and remove any infected tissue. If you have a dental abscess, a collection of pus inside the tooth, the dentist will drain it at the same time. Antibacterial and antiseptic solution is used to clean and disinfect the canals.
Shaping the root canals
The dentist may use tiny instruments to reshape and enlarge the root canals so they will be ready to receive the filling material later. This part of the treatment can take a few hours and may require more than one visit. If this is the case, the tooth will be sealed with a temporary filling. After the canals have been shaped, they are cleaned again to prevent infection.
Filling the root canals
Once the tooth area is clean and dry, it’s time for the filling. The dentist uses a rubber-like material that is placed into the canals, heated and compressed, so it fits perfectly. A sealant is applied to keep germs out.
Getting a crown
The final stage of endodontic treatment is getting a crown to add strength and stability to the tooth, restore its normal function and prevent reinfection. Once the crown is in place, you’ll be able to chew properly with the tooth again.
What happens after the root canal procedure?
The first thing you will notice following endodontic treatment is relief from the pain that had been bothering you for so long. Your mouth will feel numb for a few hours following treatment until the anaesthetic wears off. During this time, avoid drinking hot drinks and chewing food. If you do, you risk burning your mouth and biting down hard on the repaired tooth.
Although your restored tooth will no longer feel painful, it may be sensitive for a few days. Therefore, your dentist will probably recommend over-the-counter painkillers.
To help prevent the need for future endodontic treatment, follow a regular oral hygiene routine that involves twice-daily brushing.
Do you need root canal treatment?
If you have an injured or infected tooth and are in pain, it is essential to act quickly. You may need treatment. Don’t hesitate to call your trusted dentist at Southport Park Family Dental on (07) 5655 7688. We have the skills and the experience to get you out of pain fast