What is root canal therapy?
Root canal therapy is also known as endodontic therapy. Endodontic therapy means "inside the tooth." It is a treatment done to treat pulp inflammation. It cleans the teeth by removing the infection from inside and then seals it, protecting it from future diseases.
What symptoms to look for before root canal therapy?
Tooth consist of roots and a crown. Inside the root and the crown is the pulp. The pulp supports the tooth by moisturizing the surrounding material.You sense cold and hot temperatures through the nerves in the pulp. This soft tissue infection due to tooth decay repeated dental procedures, or a crack in the tooth. This injury is the reason behind pulp inflammation. If you do not treat the pulp inflammation timely, then it leads to pain and abscess. The common symptoms are:
- Unbearable toothache
- Continued sensitivity to hot and cold food
- Tooth staining
- Gum swelling
- Continuous pimples on the gums
- Blisters on gums
How does the Root canal procedure look?
There are three steps to root canal therapy and it takes a minimum of three sessions to complete the process.
1. Cleaning the root canal
The procedure starts by conducting an X-ray of the teeth to see the shape of the root canal. Using the X-ray, the dentist learns the reason for infection in the surrounding bone. Your dentist will then give you local anesthesia to anesthetize the area surrounding the tooth. Though anesthesia is not mandatory since the nerves are dead, but dentists offer it to relax the patients. Then the dentist cleans the inside of the root canal by making a small access hole on the exterior of the tooth and extracts the dead pulp tissue with tiny files. The dentist uses sodium hypochlorite or water for flushing away the debris.
2. Filling the root canal
Once the dentist finishes cleaning, shaping, and decontaminating the root canal, it is time to seal. In case the therapy does not complete on the same day, the dentist will place a temporary filling to keep the area clean of contaminants. And then, at the next appointment, the dentist fills the tooth's root canal using a rubber compound called gutta-percha and a sealer paste. The dentist places the filling to fill the exterior access hole. During the treatment, your dentist will place a rubber dam around the tooth to keep the area free of saliva and dry. Once the therapy completes, you will not feel any pain as the infection as the nerve tissues are no longer there.
3. Adding a crown
The tooth that undergoes root canal therapy is now weaker than before as the pulp is removed, and the only source of nourishment is from the ligament that attaches the tooth to the bone. Though the nutrition supply from the ligament is enough but with time, the tooth becomes more fragile. So, the dentist places a crown to protect it, restore its functionality, and prevent it from further breaking. You should take precautions while chewing before the dentist places a crown. Once the crown placement is complete, you get back to using your tooth like before.
What to expect after a root canal?
After the treatment, you might experience inflammation, swelling, sensitivity, uneven bite, or a medication reaction. No matter what the symptoms be post-treatment, a follow-up is advisable.
What is the cost of the treatment?
The cost of root canal therapy varies widely, but it is a lot more cost-efficient than other treatments. Other treatments like extraction, implants, and tooth replacement are more costly in the long term.
How to prevent the need for root canal therapy?
Dentists recommend the following steps to prevent gum diseases, infections, and tooth decay:
● Brush twice a day, once first thing in the morning and second before going to bed at night.
● Use a fluoride-containing toothpaste.
● Use the right toothbrush and replace it periodically.
● Book a regular dental appointment for checkups.
● Floss frequently. It helps clean between the teeth and stops the accumulation of plaque.
● Avoid eating too many sugary foods and drinks. Follow a healthy lifestyle.
Do not wait too long to undergo root canal treatment. It can lead to tooth loss and bone loss also. Sometimes people don't visit a dentist due to belonephobia, which is the fear of needles and pins. Talk to your dentist regarding this, as there are many dental sedation techniques. Your dentist would be the right person to advise you about which treatment is best for you and how to proceed.
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