You might be wondering what root canal treatment is and how does it stop teeth infections. Root canal treatments are a common, everyday procedure done at dental offices. Many of my patients ask if root canal treatment is painful, or whether it is safe or necessary. If you’re hoping to learn more about this treatment, read on about how it’s conducted and what happens after.
What is a Root Canal?
Every tooth has a “root”. The soft, living tissue inside every tooth (known as “dental pulp”) contains nerves and blood vessels. These vessels (blue, yellow and red lines in the picture) extend from the pulp chamber in the centre to the ends of the tooth via root canals.
Image from Blausen.com
Dental pulp can become inflamed or degenerate due to decay, disease, or injury. This can lead to a painful episode, commonly known as a toothache. The infection can also cause the surrounding bone to become infected as well. Sometimes, contents of the infection drain through the gums, resulting in swelling of the gums near the infected tooth.
In the past, a toothache would mean extraction and loss of the tooth. Fortunately, with modern technology, we can save teeth with root canal treatment instead. This therapy, also known as endodontic treatment, is focused on treating disease or injury to dental pulp, removing pain, and preserving natural teeth.
How is treatment on root canals performed?
- First, we numb the tooth so that the procedure can be carried out comfortably. A small shield is placed over the tooth and mouth to keep it clean and dry.
- An opening is made on the tooth to access the pulp chamber and root canals.
- Fluid is then introduced to kill bacteria and rinse out any debris. Then, we remove any diseased pulp. After this, we use small instruments to clean and shape the root canals to the desired shape. This can be a lengthy procedure, especially for molars as they often have multiple canals.
- Finally, we place fillings in the clean canals and seal them.
- A temporary filling is usually placed within the tooth, in preparation for the final filling or crown.
How long does root canal treatment take?
Root canal treatment can be lengthy because the structure of root canals are complex. Thus, my patients usually make two or more visits to complete the procedure.
We will numb the tooth with local anaesthesia so that treatment can be completed comfortably. Root canal treatment is not usually painful; instead, it can be slightly uncomfortable, much like getting a dental filling. Many of my patients either watch television or fall asleep during the procedure.
What happens after root canal treatment?
Image: Fillings, onlays, or crowns
Root canal treated teeth can be more prone to fracturing, especially if they are broken-down treatment due to the infection. Biting hard foods like crab shells is not recommended!
It is important to follow-up root canal treatment with the appropriate restoration, whether it is a filling or a crown, to ensure the success of the treatment as a whole. A root canal treated tooth can last a lifetime if it is well taken care of.
Is root canal treatment safe?
In this age of information, ironically, there is a lot of misinformation surrounding root canal treatment. Many posts, claiming that root canal treatment can make you sick, are proliferated through social media sites. Unfortunately, a well-made video can be convincing even if it is incorrect. The truth is, there is no scientific evidence to support these claims.
In direct contrast, root canal treatment is carried out to remove infection, thus allowing us to restore your tooth and your surrounding bone to heal. Thousands of teeth are saved by root canal treatment each day, and we can be sure that healthy teeth lead to healthy lives, and better well-being.
By choosing not to undergo root canal treatment if it is required, it’s likely that you will have to extract the whole tooth. If not, the infection may spread to the neighbouring teeth, bone, or even cause a life-threatening infection ultimately. Thus, make sure to speak to your dentist and clarify doubts so that you can maintain dental health.
Root canal treatment is a safe and common treatment. Contact us today to book an appointment if you need a dental consultation or root canal treatment today. Best of luck!