Are you unable to do any work due to a toothache? Are you having throbbing pain in your teeth? You visited your dentist, and you are at your wit’s end as the dentist has prescribed a root canal procedure? Just relax. There’s no need to be scared as root canal treatment a.k.a RCT is the most common procedure to treat a damaged or diseased tooth.
Millions of teeth are treated and saved by RCT annually each year globally, giving relief from pain and making teeth healthy again.
RCT is an important procedure performed by dentists globally to save teeth and to prevent unnecessary extractions.
There is a general perception among patients that RCT will be painful, but modern technological advances and anaesthesia options have made RCT a mostly pain-free procedure.
Recent surveys have shown that patients are more than six times likely to describe RCT as a pain free experience than patients who have a tooth extracted.
It is important to understand the benefits of RCT before making a decision about whether or not it’s right for you.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal is an endodontic procedure that involves the removal of the soft center of the tooth(save the tooth), which is also known as the pulp.
The pulp consists of nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels that help the tooth grow.
The dentist evaluates the pulp of the infected or inflamed tooth and when the evaluation reveals that the pulp of the tooth is diseased, he or she gives a suggestion for RCT.
Your fully developed tooth can survive without the pulp because your tooth continues to be nourished by the soft tissue surrounding it.
Purpose of Root Canal Treatment
A root canal is performed when the tooth pulp is injured or inflamed or infected. The crown of the tooth can remain intact even if the pulp is dead.
Removal of the injured or infected pulp is the best way to preserve the structure of the tooth.
The pulp can get damaged due to multiple reasons, namely
- An untreated cavity leading deep decay
- Multiple dental procedures on the same tooth
- A crack or chip in the tooth
- A tooth injury
The most common symptoms of the damaged pulp include lingering tooth sensitivity to hot or cold things, sharp pain when chewing or biting, pimples on gums, swollen or painful gums, deep decay or darkened gums.
Steps of a Root Canal Procedure
A root canal procedure is relatively simple. Your dentist or root canal specialists needs to clean out the infected pulp and fill the canals in your teeth. You might need a temporary crown after the procedure. Your root canal procedure(root canals explained) can only be carried out by a professional dentist or endodontist.
An endodontist is a specialized dentist who specializes in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and injuries related to the dental pulp or the nerve of your tooth.
The procedure will be followed in order to get the root canal done include:
Preparing the Area for Root Canal Treatment
Your dentist will first take an X-ray of your infected tooth to check if the detailed condition of your tooth and check if there are any signs of infection in the surrounding area.
Then your dentist will use local anaesthesia to numb the area near the tooth’s root where the root canal will be carried out.
Most dentists anaesthetize the area to make you feel more relaxed.
In order to keep the area dry and free of saliva during the procedure, your dentist will place a rubber dam (i.e. a sheet of rubber) around the tooth.
Accessing and Cleaning the Roots
Next, your dentist will drill down and get access to the tooth. The bacteria, pulp, and decayed nerve tissue are removed from the area.
A series of root canal files are used to clean out the root canals and the pulp chamber.
While the scraping and scrubbing are carried out, an antibacterial and antiseptic solution is used to clean and disinfect the canals.
The solution is sprayed in the area to flush away the debris, eliminate the bacteria and treat the infected canals.
Shaping the Canals
Your dentist needs to place filling material in the root canals.
First, teeth canals are shaped. Your dentist then uses tiny instruments to shape the canals in order to make them ready to receive the filling material.
Once they are shaped, the canals are cleaned a second time.
Filling the Canals
To fill the canals of your teeth, your dentist uses a filling material. Your dentist further adds adhesive cement to seal the canals.
This is because properly sealed canals keep bacteria out. To fill the interior of the tooth, some dentists give a second appointment.
A sealer paste and a rubber compound called gutta-percha are placed into the root canal.
A filling will be put in your tooth to close the access hole that was created at the beginning of treatment.
Filling to the Access Hole
The next step in the process is to seal the hole made to access the canals. The filling prevents bacteria from entering the inside sections of your tooth.
Healing and Antibiotics
After the filling, most dentists might send you home with a prescription for antibiotics. The prescribed medication kills the rest of the infection in the area.
You are also provided with post-care instructions. It is normal to experience some discomfort for that day, especially after the procedure.
You can also take over-the-counter pain medications to reduce your pain and discomfort.
Adding the Crown
If your root canal is done on a back tooth or a tooth that was significantly damaged, you might need to come back for a crown another day.
Your dentist will place a crown around the treated tooth that adds strength and stability.
The permanent crown is prepared to match your existing teeth. Once the crown is placed, your tooth can function as your original teeth.
Benefits of Root Canal Treatment
a. Virtually Pain Free Procedure
No doubt, the biggest benefit of RCT is that you can get rid of any kind of infection or pain in the mouth.
The root canal procedure removes pressure from inflammation in the pulp of the tooth.
You can seamlessly get back to living your normal routine without any more irritation within two days after treatment.
Through such endodontic treatment, you can retain your natural smile and continue eating the foods you enjoy the most.
If you maintain good dental hygiene, a RCT can last you a lifetime without issues. RCT is virtually pain free procedure and leaves you with less discomfort during recovery.
b. Efficient and Cost-Effective Procedure
Sometimes, it may seem that extraction of the tooth would be the most affordable choice, but in the real scenario, tooth extraction requires more follow-up appointments than RCT.
On top of it, post tooth extraction, patients have to get a denture, bridge, or implant, which drives the cost as well as time commitment higher for treatment.
Thus, RCT is efficient and cost-effective. Nowadays, many dental insurance plans cover RCT which makes root canal more affordable as opposed to tooth extraction.
c. Visually Appealing Results
Aesthetics are important for root canal patients. Teeth that have become infected may turn brown, yellow, or even black due to bacterial build-up in the pulp of the tooth.
This discoloration cannot be removed with teeth whitening. So, the common solution is to put a crown on the tooth.
Crowning the tooth will cover the discoloration and you regain the natural smile.
The final result of a RCT is a crown that not only looks like a natural tooth but also functions like it.
The crowns function like natural teeth and are visually appealing.
d. Fast & Quick Recovery
Another great takeaway of this procedure is that it takes care of the problem of infection very quickly. Patients typically recover completely within 24 to 48 hours from the treatment.
e. Other Factors
There are many other tangible benefits of saving the natural tooth with RCT which include natural appearance.
Chewing is efficient with natural teeth. You can use normal biting force and sensation with natural teeth post RCT. The presence of natural teeth protects other teeth from strain and excessive wear.
Root Canal Treatment Cost
The complexity of the problem and which tooth is affected by dictates the cost of a RCT. The cost is higher for the molars as they are more difficult to treat.
Most dental insurance policies nowadays provide coverage for endodontic treatment, but it is advisable to cross-check with insurance companies.
When your dentist treats the infection in the tooth through RCT, he or she ensures that the infection won’t spread to the jawbone or even the brain.
Since a number of major health issues throughout the body originate from dental issues, so it is important that RCT for infected teeth is not delayed.
A modern RCT procedure can be completed in one or two appointments usually, depending on the tooth condition.
Technological advances over the years have made RCT relatively painless and extremely effective.
Shake off your worries and go for it immediately if and when is suggested. You’ll be back to living your lives smiling, biting and chewing with ease in no time.
If you found this blog post useful, don’t forget to check our other blogs covering dentures.
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