The root canal is a type of endodontic treatment that provides treatment to the inside of a tooth. It is a complex procedure that is performed by experienced endodontists. This procedure involves the elimination of the affected tooth’s pulp. And protects the affected tooth from recontamination in the future. To understand this dental treatment in a better way, one should know about tooth anatomy.
Our teeth mainly consist of three parts:
The pulp is the innermost layer of the tooth that comprises blood vessels, connective tissues, and fine nerves that provides nourishment to the hard tissue of the tooth during development. This layer is also responsible for the tooth’s sensation.
When the hard enamel of the tooth is cracked, it exposes the pulp and results in infection or inflammation of the root canal . It could be caused by general tooth decay that forms an abscess or an accident that affects the tooth deeply.
Following are a few symptoms that might indicate that you need a root canal treatment:
- Severe pain sensations while biting or chewing.
- The appearance of pimples on the gums.
- Cracked or chipped teeth.
- Lingering sensitivity to cold or hot food items.
- Swollen or tender gums.
- Deep decay or darkening of the gums.
You may also need to undergo a root canal procedure if you have experienced an accident or an injury to a tooth that causes pulp damage, even if the tooth has no visible cracks or chips. If pulp infection or inflammation is left untreated for prolonged periods, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess. In such situations, endodontists have to perform more complicated dental treatments in order to restore the form and function of adjacent teeth.
Procedure Involved In the Root Canal Treatment
To initiate this treatment, the dentist uses a local aesthetic to numb the affected area surrounding the inflamed pulp to help minimize pain sensations. For certain anxious patients, dentists may use sedation to ensure that the whole dental procedure is completed safely and properly.
Once the aesthetic is applied, the dentist then places a rubber dam, which is a sheet of rubber, around the tooth. This sheet keeps the area under treatment dry and free of saliva throughout the root canal procedure.
Removing the Infected Pulp
In the first step of root canal treatment, the endodontist begins by drilling access into the tooth, which allows him to remove the inflamed or infected pulp, decayed nerve tissue, and bacteria.
The dentist then cleans the affected area with the help of a series of root canal files. They will then spray sodium hypochlorite or water in the affected area to flush away any debris.
Cleaning and Sealing
After cleaning out the infected pulp, dentists usually proceed to the next step, which is sealing the tooth. Depending on a patient’s case, dentists may recommend to wait up to a week before sealing the tooth.
This typically occurs if there is an infection that requires medication. During this period, dentists may apply a temporary filling in the exterior hole to keep food particles and saliva away from the treatment area.
But in some cases, dentists seal the tooth immediately, using a sealer paste and gutta-percha, which is a rubber compound and is used to close the access hole drilled at the start of the root canal procedure.
In the final steps of root canal treatment, dentists generally restore the treated tooth. To fill in the area where the decayed pulp was removed. A filling, like a crown, or other restoration, is then placed, which protects the treated area and prevents an already damaged and weakened tooth from breakage. The filling restores the form and function of the tooth and also improves its appearance.
Root Canal Recovery
Root canal treatments have relatively high success rates. At 95% success, teeth restored with a root canal procedure can last a lifetime. In most cases, patients resume their routine activities once the numbness wears off. However, in the next few days after this procedure, it’s normal to experience mild sensitivity due to tissue inflammation, which can be eased with the help of painkillers.
Potential Risks of Root Canal Treatment
In some severe cases, the root canal procedure can disrupt the surrounding nerves around the affected tooth; this can also cause numbness in that area. But it is not a serious problem, as it usually goes away within a few weeks. Another potential risk of this procedure is an allergy to anesthesia. Some people might react to anesthetics in a different way which can disturb the whole treatment process.
One of the most common risks of a root canal is seal failure. Once this procedure is finished, the endodontist will reseal the access hole they used for the procedure. Because if there are cracks or gaps left in the seal, it will allow bacteria to re-enter the tooth.
But these risks can be minimized by following some simple steps. Before the procedure, have a detailed consultation with the dentist to evaluate any potential complications. That could occur during or after the treatment. If any problem arises after the treatment procedure, immediately see your dentist in order to know the actual cause of the problem and to eliminate it in the initial stages. After getting the procedure done, also ensure to maintain good oral hygiene, and try to avoid sugary food items and smoking.
Estimated Costs of Root Canal Procedure
The average root canal treatment cost ranges from $300 to $2000, depending on what root canal procedure is to be performed. But these are inconsistent costs and vary greatly depending on several factors such as your location, the severity of the oral problem and the experience of your dentist.
In some cases, a root canal can even cost more, but it helps preserve the natural tooth, so it is certainly worth the price. Preserving the natural tooth structure leads to fewer dental appointments, imparting people with a healthier smile.