What Is A Root Canal?
Has your dentist told you that a filling isn’t enough to save your tooth, and left you wondering “what is a root canal?” Root canal treatments are notorious for being painful and expensive – but they can be life-changing if you’re suffering from a relentlessly aching tooth.
The American Association of Endodontists explains that the procedure removes bacteria from your infected root canal, prevents reinfection, and saves your tooth.
When you undergo the treatment, the inflamed pulp is removed, and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned, disinfected, filled and sealed. Patients are given an anaesthetic, and it is normal to feel a bit sore after the procedure, and the numbing disappears. You may be mildly discomforted for a few days.
When your dentist or endodontist books you for a root canal procedure, don’t worry. You are likely to be more relieved than scared when the treatment is complete as your long-term pain is relieved, and your teeth feel healthy again.
When Is A Root Canal Necessary?
The procedure is needed when the soft inner part of your tooth – called pulp – is injured, inflamed or infected. You can’t see the symptoms from the crown of your tooth because the tooth looks normal even if your pulp is dead. To preserve the structure of your tooth, the infected pulp must be removed.
Common causes of the dead pulp include:
- Deep decay in an untreated cavity.
- Many dental procedures are done on the same tooth.
- A crack or chip in your tooth.
- Injuring your tooth in a fight.
The symptoms of damaged pulp are a pain in your tooth and swelling, and a heated sensation in your gums. If you feel these symptoms, make an immediate appointment with your dentist, who will examine your painful tooth and confirm the diagnosis by taking X-rays.
A dentist or an endodontist can perform the procedure.
A few symptoms may indicate you need the treatment. Sometimes, you don’t know that your tooth is infected, but here are signs you may recognise:
Endless tooth pain
Tooth pain can appear for many dental reasons, but you may require root canal therapy if you have deep pain in your tooth. The discomfort can move to your jaw, face or other teeth.
Heat and cold sensitivity
Tooth pain from drinking hot coffee or ice cream may result in a root canal treatment. The pain may linger for longer than a few seconds.
An infected tooth can collect pus in that vicinity. Because of this occurrence, your gums may become puffy, swollen or tender.
A pimple or boil on your gums may imply that a root canal treatment is needed. If pus from the infected tooth drains through the pimple, it can cause an unpleasant smell or taste.
If you have an infected tooth and pus cannot drain from that area, your jaw may become visibly swollen.
Infected tooth pulp can make your tooth look darker because of a poor blood supply to the tooth.
Applied Pressure Causes Pain
If you feel pain when eating or touching a specific tooth, it can be that the nerves around the pulp are damaged and require you to get a root canal treatment.
Cracked Or Chipped Tooth
Cracking or chipping a tooth can happen accidentally – when playing sports or biting on something hard, for example. This results in bacteria reaching into your tooth pulp.
How Is It Completed?
The simplest way to treat an infected root canal is to remove the bacteria. That can be done by removing bacteria from the root canal system or extracting your tooth.
Tooth removal is not always recommended because dental practitioners prefer that you keep as many natural teeth as possible.
Before the treatment, the dentist will give you a local anaesthetic to make the procedure less painful. Once the bacterium is removed, the root canal is closed with a filling or crown.
Most times, the inflamed tissue by your tooth heals naturally. A root canal treatment is usually successful. Nine out of 10 cases survive for up to 10 years after an infected root canal is treated.
What Does It Cost?
Dental treatment varies, but a root canal treatment can cost more than most dental treatments. If you cannot get a root canal treatment, extracting your tooth is an option. However, if you want to replace your tooth with an implant or bridge, it can be more expensive than a root canal procedure.
Extracting your teeth can lead to malocclusion, misaligned teeth and chewing difficulty.
You must keep the area clean where the treatment occurred. Brush and floss like you usually do, but add anti-bacterial mouthwash to your routine to keep any germs away.
Be more aware of what you put into your mouth and take oral hygiene seriously to avoid any more treatments.
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