What is a root canal treatment? A root canal procedure is performed when the pulp inside the tooth gets infected because of build-up of plaque and bacteria due to poor oral hygiene. The root canal procedure is basically a cleaning and removal of infected pulp from inside of the tooth and fill the canal.
Why is root canal treatment carried out?
The tooth is made up of the enamel, the white, hard outer layer; dentin, the second layer next to enamel and pulp, the soft inner layer made of soft tissue next to dentin. These tissues contain nerves, blood vessels and connective tissues which help in the growth of root of the teeth while it is developing. Once the tooth is fully grown, the pulp has no more use and the tooth can survive without it because the tissues around it can give it nourishment.
When the tooth is infected, it is the pulp that gets decayed, and the dentist has to remove this decayed pulp from the root canals hence the name of the treatment. Root canal is a very routine procedure which is taken up by the endodontists almost every day.
Who needs root canal procedure?
People who have tooth injury or cracked tooth. Or people with infected and decayed teeth, also people with dental cavities need root canal treatment done so that their teeth can be saved.
What are the symptoms that may indicate you need root canal treatment?
Great pain while biting or chewing, sensitivity to hot or cold food, the sensitivity that is persistent long after the hot or cold sensation has been removed, swollen or tender gums, darkened gums, or pimples on the gums.
What is the standard procedure for root canal treatment?
During the first meeting, the dentist will check your tooth to find the reason of your pain. Once he checks and concludes that it is the decay in root of the tooth that is causing the pain, he will try to see options to save the tooth. He will take the images in his office to determine the extent and nature of the decay.
To begin with, he will spray anti-bacterial liquid or mouth wash to disinfect the mouth. The he will use local anaesthesia to numb the area around the infected tooth to prevent it from pain. The anaesthesia will be used keeping in mind the age of the patient and the amount of work to be carried out. After the anaesthesia has taken effect, he will isolate the working area with a dental dam to which is a small protective sheet which will keep it clean and free from saliva while he is working on the tooth, a kind of device to demark the area of work.
After this preparation, the dentist will drill the tooth to make an opening for the instrument to reach at the root of the tooth where the decay is located. The dentist will use special needles to clear out the infected pulp from the chamber and the canals where the decay has reached.
Once he has cleared out the decayed pulp from the canals in the root of the tooth, he has to make space for dental filling. Before he can fill the canals with a dental filling, he has to make sure that all the debris from cleaning and decay has been cleared and to make sure no bacteria is left behind, he will spray the area with an antiseptic disinfectant.
Shaping the canals is important so that the canals can receive restorative material. The dentist will then make room for the dental filling so that no space is left empty. The tooth has to be filled, to make it strong enough to withstand the pressure of chewing. If the space is left unfilled, the tooth will break under pressure.
Filling the canals with gutta percha. When the dentist has created the space for the filling, he will fill the root canals with a biocompatible rubber like material which is a hard thermoplastic substance, called gutta-percha. This special substance is glued in with an adhesive cement so that the root canals are sealed completely.
After the sealing of root canals, the dentist will fill the cavity created with cleaning of the decay, with a temporary dental filling which will be removed when the final dental filling will be put in and the tooth will have cap to permanently fill the tooth.
After the root canal, and temporary filling, you have to get your tooth filled with a filling of your choice and get it capped with an artificial crown so that it will work as a natural tooth again.
Sometimes a lot of material has to be removed because of extensive decay. In such a case, the dentist may have to put a post or a pin inside the tooth which can hold the dental filling in place. This will make the tooth stronger enough to be used as a natural tooth again after restoration.
This procedure can be completed in one sitting or may be two, depending on the extent of damage. Once the procedure is over, you can go home, but the numbness may remain for an hour or two after the proceedings because of anaesthetic injection. Do not eat anything till the numbness has gone completely.
Antibiotics are prescribed to stop infection recurring and also to prevent any new infection in the mouth because of use of instruments and work done which may have caused tiny cuts opening for bacteria.
The cost of root canal procedure depends on the amount of work involved. It is usually less expensive than tooth extraction. Saving a tooth and restore it with endodontic treatment costs less than removing the tooth and getting it replaced with artificial tooth like bridges and implants is always more expensive. The extracted tooth creates empty space which makes the neighbouring tooth to move or shift thus putting them too in danger of becoming slanted and loose.
That is why the dentists all over, advise root canal treatment to save the natural tooth and restore it to make it work again, without pain and discomfort.