The term root canal treatment is one type of treatment for tooth infections. This refers to the dental treatment of the inner chamber between the tooth roots and the pulp, and also to the dental treatment for removing infected pulp material. Tooth infections can cause severe tooth pain and often necessitate tooth extraction. With root canal treatment, a dentist may be able to save the tooth and alleviate pain.
Why root canal treatment is necessary
The root canals house the tooth nerves and blood vessels. After the permanent teeth emerge fully from the gums, the nerves serve no particular purpose other than feeling stimuli like cold and heat. Removing the nerve in an infected tooth is a necessary process to treat the pain resulting from decay or infection in the tooth pulp.
Some of the common causes of tooth infection include severe tooth decay that reaches the core of the tooth, and damage — such as cracks or chips, tooth trauma and large fillings — compromises the tooth’s structure and opens it up to bacterial infection.
Root canal treatment
The root canal procedure is done in multiple stages, which involves cleaning out the infected tooth material and sealing the tooth to prevent future reinfection. Patients can expect the following during treatment:
- Preparation: The dentist will take an x-ray of the teeth to ascertain the degree of decay and infection. Afterward, they will apply a local anesthetic to numb the area and prevent pain during the treatment. Once the patient is comfortable, a rubber dam will be used to keep the tooth dry
- Treatment: The dentist will create an access hole into the tooth. With dental tools, they will remove the damaged or infected nerve and pulp tissue. They will clean the chamber thoroughly to remove all traces of infection
- When the tooth is clean, the dentist will proceed to seal the tooth chamber (which is now hollow) with a material called gutta-percha. They may put in a temporary filling on the tooth until the final dental crown is ready. The filling is applied to the access hole
- Final restoration: Applying the crown over the tooth completes the root canal process. Sometimes, the dentist may decide not to cover the tooth to monitor it before filling and sealing it. In this case, the tooth will be protected with temporary filling while waiting for all traces of infected material to drain away
- Most people who undergo root canal treatment say it is just like getting a dental filling. At the next appointment, the dentist will cover the tooth with a crown to protect the remaining tooth structure and prevent reinfection
Root canal aftercare
Some patients may experience tooth sensitivity and pain after the procedure. The discomfort is usually minor and temporary and taking over-the-counter pain medications is typically enough. If symptoms persist, a visit to the dental office will be necessary. After the procedure, patients need to practice good oral hygiene and visit the dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups.
Do you currently need a root canal?
Root canal treatment is highly effective for saving an infected tooth. If you are experiencing signs of a tooth infection, contact our office immediately for an appointment.
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