Are you distracted and unable to concentrate on your work due to a toothache? Are you having throbbing pain in your mouth? You visited your dentist and are at your wit’s end as your dentist has prescribed a root canal procedure? Just relax. Do not get scared as a root canal or RCT is the most common treatment today to cure a diseased or damaged tooth.
Hundreds of teeth are treated and saved by RCT annually. The procedure gives relief from tooth pain and makes your teeth healthy and functional again. The root canal is an important technique performed by dentists who want to save teeth and prevent unnecessary extractions.
There is a general perception among individuals that root canal procedures might be painful. But modern technological advances and anesthesia options have made it a mostly pain-free procedure.
Recent stats show that patients are more than six times more likely to describe root canal as a pain-free experience than patients who recently had an extraction.
Therefore you should understand the benefits of RCT before deciding whether or not to opt for the procedure.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal is an endodontic procedure. During the treatment, your dentist will remove the soft center of the tooth, known as the pulp. The procedure is done to save your teeth and prevent extraction. The pulp of your teeth consists of blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue that help your tooth grow.
Your dentist will evaluate the pulp of the inflamed or infected tooth, and when the evaluation reveals that your tooth pulp is diseased, they might suggest a root canal treatment. Interestingly your fully developed tooth can survive without the pulp because your tooth will continue to be nourished by the soft tissue that surrounds it.
Purpose of Root Canal Treatment
Your dentist will perform root canal treatment when your tooth pulp is inflamed, injured, or infected. Even if the pulp is dead the crown of the affected tooth can remain intact. Removal of the injured or infected pulp is the best method to preserve your tooth’s structure.
The pulp can get damaged due to multiple reasons, primarily
- A tooth injury
- An untreated cavity that results in deep decay
- A crack or chip in the tooth
- Multiple dental procedures on the same tooth
The most common symptoms and signs of the damaged pulp include lingering tooth sensitivity to hot or cold things and sharp pain when biting or chewing. Other symptoms may include painful or swollen gums, pimples on gums, or deep decay.
Steps of a Root Canal Procedure
A root canal process is relatively simple. Your dentist will clean out the infected pulp and fill those canals in your teeth. After the procedure, your dentist might provide a temporary crown. Note that a professional dentist or endodontist can only carry out your root canal procedure.
An endodontist is a specialized dentist specializing in preventing, diagnosing, and treating injuries and diseases related to your dental pulp or your tooth nerve.
These are the procedures involved:
1 Preparing the Area for Root Canal Treatment
Your dentist will first take an X-ray of your infected tooth. With the X-ray, your dentist will help check the detailed condition of the tooth. It will also help check any signs of infection in the surrounding area.
The next step – your dentist will use local anesthesia to numb the surrounding area, the tooth where the root canal will be carried out. After anesthetizing the area, they will make you feel more relaxed. To keep the area dry and free of saliva, they will place a rubber dam around the tooth.
2 Accessing and Cleaning the Roots
After numbing the area, they will drill down your tooth and get access to the area. Your dentist will then remove the bacteria, pulp, and decayed nerve tissues from the area. Your dentist will use a series of root canal files to clean out the pulp chamber and root canals.
While the scraping and scrubbing are carried out, an antiseptic and antibacterial solution might be used to clean and disinfect the tooth canals. The solution is then sprayed to flush away the debris, thus eliminating the bacteria and treating the infected canals.
3 Shaping the Canals
Your dentist will then place filling material in the root canals at this step. First, your tooth canals are shaped. Then they will use tiny instruments to shape the canals. This shaping is a must-have to make them ready to receive the tooth filling material. Next, your dentist will clean the canals a second time.
4 Filling the Canals
Your dentist will use a filling material to fill the canals of your teeth. They will further add adhesive cement to seal the canals. This is probably because these sealed canals keep bacteria out.
A sealer paste mixed with a rubber compound called gutta-percha is placed inside the root canal. The tooth filling will be put in your tooth to close the access hole, initially created at the beginning of treatment.
5 Filling to the Access Hole
The next step in the process is sealing the hole initially made to access the canals. The filling will prevent harmful bacteria from entering the inside sections of the tooth.
6 Healing and Antibiotics
Once the filling is completed, they will send you a prescription for antibiotics. Note that these prescribed medications will kill the rest of the infection in your infected tooth.
They will also provide you with post-care instructions. It is normal for people to experience some discomfort on the first day, especially after the procedure. If you experience any discomfort and pain, you can take over-the-counter pain medications to reduce the ache.
7 Adding the Crown
If your root canal is done on a back tooth, meaning a molar, or in case your tooth was badly damaged, you might have to come back for a crown another day.
Your dentist will place a crown around the treated tooth as it adds strength and stability to the affected tooth. The permanent crown is prepared such that it matches your existing teeth. After the crown is placed, your infected tooth can function like your natural tooth.
Benefits of Root Canal Treatment
A) Efficient and Cost-Effective Procedure
At times, it might seem that tooth extraction is the most convenient and affordable choice. But in reality, tooth extraction will require more follow-up appointments than RCT.
In addition, post extraction, patients have to get a denture, bridge, or implant, which would cost higher and also take time to complete the treatment.
Hence, it is seen that RCT is an efficient and cost-effective option. Nowadays, several dental insurance plans cover the treatment, making root canal more affordable as opposed to extraction.
B) Virtually Pain-Free Procedure
No doubt, the greatest benefit of the treatment is that you can get rid of any toothache or infection in the mouth. The procedure can remove pressure from inflammation in the pulp of your tooth. You can seamlessly get back to your regular routine without any more irritation or pain within two days.
Through this endodontic treatment, you can easily retain your natural smile and continue eating your favorite food. If you maintain good dental hygiene, a root canal treatment can last you a lifetime without any hassles. The procedure is virtually pain-free and will leave you with less discomfort during recovery.
C) Visually Appealing Results
However, you must note that aesthetics are important for root canal patients. Your infected or damaged teeth may turn yellow, brown, or even black due to bacterial build-up in the pulp.
Any kind of tooth discoloration cannot be removed with a regular teeth whitening treatment. Hence the preferred solution is to place a crown on the treated tooth. Crowning the tooth will cover the discoloration and additionally help regain your natural smile. The final result of a root canal procedure is a crown that looks like your natural tooth and also functions like it.
In addition, the crowns are visually more appealing too.
D) Fast & Quick Recovery
Another great takeaway is that it takes care of the problem of infection very fast. You can recover completely within 24 – 48 hours after the treatment.
E) Other Factors
Hence, you might have seen many other tangible benefits of saving your original tooth with this treatment, including natural appearance. Moreover, chewing food is also more efficient with your natural teeth than with an artificial one. Moreover, you can use normal biting force and sensation with your natural teeth after the root canal procedure. The presence of your natural tooth in your jaw protects other teeth from strain and excessive wear.
Root Canal Procedure Cost
Basically, the complexity of the problem and which tooth is infected will decide the cost of the treatment. Note that the cost is always higher for molars as they are located inside and are difficult to treat.
Nowadays, you will find most dental insurance policies cover endodontic treatment. But it is always advisable to cross-check with your insurance companies.
When your dentist treats the infection through RCT, they ensure that the infection does not spread to the jawbone or even to other parts of the body. Your oral health is closely connected to your rest of the body. As you might know there are a number of health issues that originate from dental issues. Therefore, it is crucial you do not delay the RCT for infected teeth.
Note that a modern root canal procedure can be completed in just one or two appointments. It solely depends on your tooth condition. In addition, technological advances have made the treatment highly effective and relatively painless over the years.
Do not worry. Opt for the treatment immediately as and when suggested. You will be back to living your regular lives smiling, biting, and chewing with ease in no time.