Root Canal Treatment

Root Canal Treatment

Root canal treatment, also known as endodontics, is required when the blood or nerve supply of the pulp is infected. Tooth decay and trauma are some of the possible causes of infection. During the initial stage of infection, you may not feel any pain. In some cases, the colour of the infected tooth will darken if the nerve of the tooth has died or is dying. If this happens, it will require root canal treatment.

In case you have any concerns about root canal treatment, please feel free to give us a call.

When Do You Need Root Canal Treatment?

X-rays is required to check if the pulp has been damaged by a bacterial infection. If it is infected, root canal treatment is needed.

The symptoms of a pulp infection include:

  • pain when consuming hot or cold food and drink
  • pain during biting or chewing
  • a loose tooth

If the infection is allowed to progress, these symptoms goes away as the pulp dies but the infection is continuously spreading through the root canal system.

Ultimately, you get further symptoms such as:

  • pain during biting or chewing 
  • swollen gum near the infected tooth
  • pus oozing from the infected tooth
  • facial swelling
  • infected tooth becoming a darker colour

Hence, it is important to see your dentist if you develop toothache.

Is Root Canal Treatment Painful?

Many patients have the idea that root canal procedure is painful and are very hesitant about getting the treatment they require. Thankfully, the anaesthetic technology used by dentists these days means the procedure can be performed with minimal discomfort. You should feel as though you are having a regular filling, except the duration is longer.

Root canal treatment helps to alleviate discomfort especially for patients having compelling root canal pain before the treatment.

In fact, many patients experience more discomfort from having to hold their mouth wide open during the treatment as compared to the treatment itself.

Your dentist should administer anaesthetic before starting any treatment. As the treatment duration is long, there might be a need to re-administer anaesthetic. Signal to your dentist should you start feeling pain during the treatment.

Root Canal Treatment Aftercare

It is important to look after your teeth while recovering from root canal treatment.

Until your treatment is over, do avoid consuming hard foods.

You should no longer feel pain in your restored tooth after your final treatment. Though in some cases, your restored tooth may feel sensitive for a few days.

In case of any discomfort, you may take over-the-counter painkillers.

Consult with your dentist if you have persistent pain or swell after taking painkillers.

In most cases, you can likely prevent the need for further root canal procedure by:

  • Keeping good oral hygiene
  • Cut down on sugar in your diet
  • Quit smoking
root canal treatment procedure step-by-step

The Benefits of Root Canal Treatment

  • Root canal treatment can save your natural teeth instead of having to extract them and replace them with dentures, bridges or implants. Saving your natural teeth can help to avoid requiring further treatments.
  • This treatment is immediate and rather straightforward, whereby other treatment options might require a longer duration and cost more.
  • Keeping your natural teeth is always the best option so that you can enjoy your natural smile and there is no need to restrict the foods you can eat.
  • If you are experiencing pain due to an infected tooth, this treatment can ease the pain so that you need not deal with the pain caused by the infection and inflammation.

Root Canal Procedure

There are four main root canal treatment steps to restore an infected tooth. The whole treatment usually is conducted over one or two dental visits. The number of dental visits needed will depend on which tooth is being treated and how complex your case is.

After taking x-rays to plan your treatment, your dentist or endodontist will administer a local anaesthetic. This numbs the area being treated and you should not feel any pain.

Removing the Pulp

Your dentist will place a rubber sheet (dam) around the tooth to ensure it’s dry during treatment. This also helps to prevent you from swallowing or breathing in any chemicals used during the treatment. The dentist will open your tooth through the crown, the flat part at the top, to access the pulp which is the soft tissue at the centre of the tooth. They’ll then remove any infected pulp that remains. Your dentist will be able to drain dental abscess at the same time if there is any.

Cleaning and Filling the Root Canal

After removing the pulp, your dentist will enlarge and clean the root canal. Your dentist will utilise a series of small files to expand the root canals which is usually very narrow. Your dentist will also make the canals a regular shape so they can be filled easily.

If the treatment requires a few sessions, your dentist may put a small quantity of medicine in the cleaned canal between each session to get rid of any remaining bacteria. A temporary filling will then be used to seal the tooth.

Once all the canals have been cleaned and widened, it’s time to fill them. It’s important that the root canal filling totally fills the space inside the tooth, otherwise there is a higher chance for it to become re-infected. Once the roots are filled, the remaining space in the tooth can be filled and restored similar to a regular tooth filling. This provides an extra seal to protect the roots from any bacteria infection.

Crowning (Optional)

Because a tooth is more fragile following root canal treatment, you may be recommended to have a crown. A crown (also called a ‘cap’) is a protective covering made from porcelain or metal. It covers and protects the entire tooth from any further damage.

Who is Suitable for Root Canal Procedure?

In most cases, a root canal treatment is the most suitable treatment to stop the spread of tooth decay and infection from the tooth to the surrounding bone and tissue and to conserve the existing natural tooth. This situation normally arises when teeth become damaged as a result of trauma, fractures, faulty crowns and fillings, but the most common cause is decay.

However, there are situations where reluctantly, tooth extraction is the best option. These instances are when the infection and decay have existed too long or are too severe for the tooth to be saved, or when it is not possible to properly clean and seal the canals, or there are insufficient bone to support the tooth.

Click here to know more on what to expect after a root canal procedure.

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