Root canal therapy (endodontic therapy) is a dental treatment involving the removal of infection present inside a tooth. This procedure can also safeguard the tooth from future infections. It is done out in the soft centre, the pulp of the tooth. A dentist or endodontist will perform this procedure under local anaesthesia.

Read this article to understand more about this procedure, as well as the risks involved.
Root canal treatment

What Is Root Canal?

A ‘root canal’ is a part of a tooth, a hollow region of a tooth that contains the nerve, connective tissue, and blood vessels, which is also known as the pulp that supports tooth growth.

A tooth comprises a crown and roots, where the crown is above the gum and the roots are below it. The root holds the tooth to the jawbone. Inside the crown and the root, or the root canal is the pulp. The pulp supports nourishing the tooth and offers moisture, while the nerves in the pulp sense hot and cold temperatures, as well as pain.

The name of this dental procedure is commonly known as the “root canal”, but it is actually endodontic therapy, which means “inside the tooth”.

Also Read: Receding Gums: Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

When Is A Root Canal Needed?

Usually, a root canal is done when the soft inner region of the tooth is injured or becomes infected. However, the crown of the tooth and the part above the gums can remain intact even if the pulp is dead. Thus, removing infected or damaged pulp is the best possible way to sustain the structure of the tooth.

Some of the causes of pulp damage include:

  • Deep decay due to an untreated cavity
  • Repeated dental therapy on the same tooth
  • A crack in the tooth
  • An injury to the tooth

Symptoms of the damaged pulp include intense pain in the tooth, swelling, and a sensation of heat in the gums. The dentist will thoroughly examine the painful tooth and take X-rays to confirm the diagnosis.

Also Read: Dental Anxiety In Kids. Here’s How You Deal With It

How Is It Performed?

The root canal procedure is done in three steps, and it usually takes between 1-3 sessions to completer the procedure.

Cleaning The Root Canal

The dentist clears everything that is inside the root canal. The patient is given local anaesthesia and the dentist makes a small opening to access the top surface of the tooth and get rid of diseased and dead pulp tissue with help of special tools called files.

Filling The Root Canal

The next step involves the dentist cleaning, shaping and decontaminating the hollow region, using tiny files and irrigation solutions. Further, the tooth is loaded with a rubber-like material, using adhesive cement to seal the canals thoroughly.

Post root canal therapy, the tooth is dead, and the patient will not feel any pain in the tooth, as the nerve tissue has been removed and infection has been expelled out.

Adding A Crown Or Filling

Now, the tooth will be more fragile than it was before. Thus, a tooth without pulp should get its nourishments from ligaments that attach the tooth to the bone. This supply is enough, but in the course of time, the tooth will become more brittle, so a crown or filling delivers protection.

Unless the crown or filling is complete, that patient should not chew or bite on the tooth. Once the crown or filling is done, the patient can use the tooth as before.

The procedure may take two to three sessions based on how canals are curved canals, multi-canals or severe infections.

Post Procedure

Generally, the tooth and gums might feel slight pain when numbing medication effects wear off. The gums may also swell. The dentist will treat these symptoms by giving over-the-counter pain medications. Consult your dentist if the pain becomes more intense or lasts for more than a few days.

The patient can resume regular work the day after the procedure, however, avoid chewing with a damaged tooth, until it is permanently filled, or a crown is placed over the top. Also, the patient must visit the dentist in the next few days. A Xay is taken to check if the infection is completely removed. Further, you may also need to replace the temporary filling with a permanent one. Then the dentist will fix a permanent crown on the tooth. These crowns are artificial teeth, that are made with porcelain or gold and give a realistic look. Moreover, it may take several weeks to get acclimatised to how the tooth feels post-procedure, this is quite normal and no cause of concern.

Risks Of A Root Canal

This therapy is done to save teeth. But, at times damage is too deep or the enamel is too fragile to endure the procedure. These factors can lead to loss of the tooth.

An abscess may develop at the root of the tooth, if any of the infected material remains behind or if the antibiotics aren’t potential.

If you’re hesitant about a root canal, talk to your dentist about an extraction instead. As this involves placing a partial denture, bridge, or implant in place of the damaged tooth.

A root canal is a restorative procedure. Most people can enjoy positive results lifelong. However, how long results last depends on the way one takes care of their teeth.

Good dental hygiene and oral health are essential such as regular brushing and flossing to preserve the restored tooth.