Root Canal: Process, Causes, Problems, Surgery, Cost & Recovery

Every year, millions of people undergo root canal treatment to save decaying teeth. This common treatment is a safe and effective alternative to tooth extraction. Read on to learn more about root canal treatment.

1) What is Root Canal Treatment?

A root canal is a type of endodontic treatment that is used to repair a tooth that is damaged due to severe tooth decay or tooth pulp that is badly infected. If left untreated, the tooth will continue to deteriorate, and the infection may spread to other parts of the mouth and may form a painful abscess.

A root canal removes the infected pulp from inside the tooth, eliminating the harmful bacteria to prevent further infection. The tooth is then filled and sealed to preserve function.


2) Why You Might Need Root Canal Treatment?

The primary cause for a root canal treatment is severe tooth decay. However, you may also need a root canal if you have had repeated dental treatments on a tooth, your tooth is chipped or cracked, or the pulp is inflamed due to trauma.

The symptoms of conditions that may require a root canal include intense pain when biting or chewing, prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold items even if the substance has been removed, visible chips or cracks, swollen or tender gums that are dark in appearance, pimples on the gums, and grey tooth discoloration.


3) What Does It Cost?

The cost of root canal treatment varies according to the dentist and the severity of the condition, but the overall cost of treatment is less expensive than the alternatives which include having the entire tooth removed and replaced with a bridge, denture or dental implant. Tooth extraction can also cause other problems such as misaligned teeth, malocclusion or problems eating.


4) Pros and Cons of Getting a Root Canal

Pros

Alleviates Pain

As the nerve inside the tooth is also removed in addition to the infected pulp and tissue, the treatment addresses the cause of the pain and not just the symptoms providing you with complete pain relief.

Restores Tooth Function

Unlike tooth extraction, root canal treatment allows you to fully recover the function of the tooth by filling in the inside. The part that is removed during the procedure, the pulp, is only vital when the tooth is developing, and teeth can exist without the pulp by taking nutrients from the surrounding tissues.

Cons

May Not Remove All Bacteria

Some studies have suggested that the treatment does not remove all the bacteria that cause the infection from inside the tooth. This can lead to secondary infections and the need for antibiotics. However, other dental professionals suggest that the body’s immune system is well-equipped to deal with any residual bacterial infection if the majority is cleaned from the tooth.


5) The Procedure Involved in the Root Canal Treatment

The total root canal procedure may require one or more dental visits. During your initial consultation, your dentist may discuss with you whether you require a dentist or an endodontist to perform the procedure depending on how severe the damage is. For a comprehensive consultation, or to understand more about the root canal procedure, call your local dentist in Southend.

  • X-ray

The first step in an endodontic procedure is to determine the shape of the root canal and the nature and severity of the damage to the tooth by taking an x-ray. The dentist can then refer to this throughout the procedure to ensure that the tooth is treated as effectively as possible.

  • Anesthesia

The dentist will apply a small amount of topical numbing gel on the gums around the tooth, then administer a local anesthetic to numb the tooth. A dental dam will be placed around the tooth to isolate the area and keep the area clean and dry from saliva.

  • Pulpectomy

During a pulpectomy, the dentist will drill a small access hole in the crown of the tooth. Then, small tools are used to remove the damaged nerve tissue and bacterial infection carefully. The tooth is then cleaned using files of increasing diameter until the entire length of the canal is clean. Water or sodium hypochlorite is used to wash away debris.

At this point, your dentist may decide to leave the tooth for a week before filling and apply an oral medication to the tooth for further disinfection.

  • Filling

The final step of the root canal treatment is filling the tooth. The filler is a medical-grade sealant called gutta-percha, which is applied using dental cement. The dentist may then apply a temporary filling or cap, and a permanent crown can be applied at a later date to restore full tooth function.


6) The Problems or Complications in a Root Canal Treatment

In some rare cases, the root canal treatment may be unsuccessful as new infections may occur. Some of the causes of these complications include a missed root canal infection in the same tooth that was not previously identified, a crack at the root of the tooth, or sealant deterioration that has allowed residual bacteria to seep back into the tooth.

7) Tips to Recover after a Root Canal

Do Not Eat Immediately After the Procedure

Following the treatment, your teeth and gums may experience increased sensitivity, and you may still be under the effects of the anesthesia. To avoid further damaging the area, it is recommended that you do not eat anything for up to 2 hours after the procedure.

Keep Your Head Elevated

Avoid lying down after the procedure. By keeping your head elevated you can help to reduce the swelling and pain.

Use Cold Compresses

To relieve pain and swelling, apply cold compresses to the side of your jaw for 10 – 15 minutes throughout the day.

Saltwater Gargle

Gargling warm salt water regularly throughout the day cannot only help to alleviate pain but also help to manage infection in the teeth and gums.

Final Thoughts

The best way to ensure that you do not need a root canal or other endodontic procedure is to take care of your teeth and gums with a proper oral hygiene regime. If you are suffering from severe tooth decay and suspect that you may need a root canal, make an appointment with your dentist to learn more about how root canal treatment can help save your tooth.

Author bio:

Located on the Southchurch Road, Parmar Dental is a multi-award winning

Southend Orthodontics offering high standard and quality dental treatments that patients always expect. Parmar Dental provides dental care in a very relaxed and tranquil environment, where each visit would be a unique experience for their patients.

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