Root canal treatment is used to save a tooth with an infected or dead pulp and prevent the infection from spreading. Pulp exists inside each tooth, providing the tooth with nerves and nutrients. The pulp tissue can sometimes die if it is damaged or diseased. A root canal saves the affected tooth by cleaning out the diseased pulp and reshaping the canal.
Once the pulp is removed, the root canal is cleaned and sealed for protection. A crown is then placed over the tooth to increase its strength.
Individuals may experience symptoms differently, but these are the most common symptoms of an injured or damaged pulp:
- Pain when biting down and chewing
- Oversensitivity of teeth with hot or cold food or beverages
- Facial swelling.
These symptoms can also be a sign of other oral health issues, so they may not always indicate that you require root canal treatment. It is recommended that you consult team at ADMC if you are experiencing pain or discomfort.
Your tooth cannot heal by itself. If left untreated, the infection could lead to:
- An abscess forming at the root of the tooth
- Deterioration of the underlying bone tissue
- Severe pain.
Delaying treatment for too long can make it impossible for your dentist to save your tooth. The infection can also spread to neighboring teeth, potentially leading to:
- Blood poisoning
- Swelling in the face and neck.
A root canal is usually a simple procedure with little or no discomfort. It involves one to three visits to a dentist.
Here is a step-by-step guide to how the procedure saves your tooth:
- Your dentist makes an opening through the top of the tooth down to the pulp chamber.
- The injured or dead pulp is taken out and the root canals are irrigated and medicated.
- A temporary filling is placed in the opening at the top of the tooth in order to protect it between procedures. Alternatively, the tooth may be left open to drain for a couple of days.
- The temporary filling gets removed and the pulp chamber and root canal(s) are cleaned then filled.
- A crown is placed over the tooth. The endodontist performing the treatment will advise you to see your dentist to complete this last step.
Most patients report that having a root canal treatment today is as unremarkable as getting a filling.
The root canal treatment eliminates the pain caused by the tooth infection. A local anesthetic numbs the tooth and surrounding area, making the procedure painless.
A single root canal treatment can usually take anywhere between 30-90 minutes.
Root canal treatment is a simple and painless procedure that offers many benefits, including:
- Relief of pain and discomfort
- Prevention of spread of infection
- A healthy restored tooth that lasts a lifetime if properly cared for
- No interruption or changes to other teeth
- Normal biting and chewing sensation
- You get to keep your natural smile!
Returned infection is a possible, although uncommon side effect of root canal treatment. This can be the result of incorrectly cleaned root canals or an undetected crack in the root of a tooth. Returned infection can be aided with a simple re-treatment.
Over 95% of root canal treatments are completed successfully. Occasionally, a case may require a repeated treatment if there are diseased canal offshoots that have initially gone undetected or if the canal filing instrument fractures, but this is very rare. Returning pain is a symptom of a root canal that has not been completed correctly.
The recovery period after root canal treatment is minimal, and you should be feeling completely back to normal after just a few days. Slight inflammation is normal and may cause discomfort for a couple of days or so. This can be treated with an over-the-counter painkiller, as well as a warm saltwater rinse.