Most of us have heard of root canal treatment—usually in a way that makes it sound like something terrible. It’s no secret that many people have some anxiety about medical or dental procedures, but as is often the case in these matters, there is no cause for concern or fear. It’s a common—and safe—procedure used to remove infection and, in many cases, help relieve pain for many patients.
A recent study by the University of Adelaide found that root canal therapy can bring “a positive effect to the quality of life” to dental patients who have experienced the treatment.
What Is A Root Canal Treatment?
A root canal treatment is a dental procedure used to remove an infection from the inside of a patient’s tooth. This part of the tooth is called the dental pulp and contains nerves, connective tissue and blood vessels.. These structures inside the pulp supply the tooth with oxygen and other nutrients and are critical to its health and integrity.
If the dental pulp becomes damaged or infected, it can cause a great deal of discomfort. This condition must be corrected by your dentist right away, not only to relieve the discomfort but also to remove infection and restore its proper function and protect it from future infection.
Success rates for root canal therapy are good. The end result should be a pain-free and fully functional tooth. A tooth treated with root canal therapy may often need a crown placed to help protect it from breaking after treatment. It will also help maintain the tooth`s healthy-looking appearance.
The Steps to a Root Canal Procedure
Root canal treatment generally involves two or three steps, and each may take anywhere from half an hour to ninety minutes. Any tooth with advanced infection or multiple canals in need of treatment may take longer or require more appointments.
Step 1 – Remove any decay from the tooth
Your dentist will first administer local anesthesia to prevent any discomfort before beginning the procedure. They will remove any decay from the tooth, and the dentist will then begin accessing the pulp chamber and start cleaning out the root canal. A temporary filling will be placed to restore the tooth for the rest of the root canal treatment.
Step 2 – Cleaning the root canal system
A small opening is made in the top of the tooth, and the pulp chamber and root canal system is thoroughly cleaned, removing any infected or inflamed tissue. The dentist will dress the tooth with medication to help relieve pain and continue to help remove any infection inside the tooth.
Step 3 – Filling the root canal
Finally, your dentist will carefully examine and test the space created inside the tooth to confirm it is properly cleaned. This space will then be filled with special material, generally, a thermoplastic filling to seal and help protect the tooth from re-infection. The treated root canal is then sealed with a permanent filling. Depending on the extent of decay, a crown may also be recommended to give the tooth additional strength.
Signs That You May Need Root Canal Treatment
Typically, the first (and most common) indicator that you may need root canal therapy is tooth pain. If you experience sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, jaw pain or toothache or swelling and tenderness in the gum tissue around a tooth, you may need root canal treatment. The only way to be entirely sure is to be seen by your dentist, who will inspect your teeth and gums to determine the source of trouble.
Different factors can cause root canal issues, such as advanced tooth decay, gum disease, an injury or severe clenching or grinding of the teeth that cause a crack in the tooth’s surface. It’s important to practice good dental hygiene to help prevent some of these problems and to see your dentist regularly so any underlying issues can be addressed.
Benefits of Root Canal Treatment
The vast majority of patients treated with root canal therapy will have a fully functional tooth—and will experience immediate and long term relief from any pain or discomfort in the treated tooth. Any infection or damaged tissue will be removed from inside the tooth, which helps prevent further infection.
Root canal therapy is a great way to save even a badly infected tooth and prevent its removal. You will be able to enjoy the proper functioning of the tooth and a healthy and natural-looking smile.
Root canal therapy shouldn’t be seen as a cause for fear or anxiety but an opportunity for your dentist to help you preserve the normal health and function of your teeth. Many people experience root canal treatment each year and now enjoy pain-free dental function and continued oral health as a result.
If you suspect you may need root canal therapy due to pain or discomfort in a tooth, contact your dentist immediately to set up an appointment. Your dentist will examine the affected area and determine the best course of action. Root canal treatment can preserve your smile, bring relief from pain or discomfort and enable you to enjoy normal, healthy teeth for many years to come.