Root Canal Treatment – Process, Symptoms, Benefits & Cure
Table of Contents:
- What is Root Canal?
- The Process of Root Canal Treatment - An Introduction
- Step by Step Root Canal Treatment Process
- Root Canal Post Treatment Experiences and Prescription Medicines
- Benefits of Root Canal
Apart from everything else, all that matters the most is wearing a beautiful and a bright smile. But things can definitely take a U-Turn at times when a toothache is leaving you with sleepless nights. While the reasons for toothache can be many, today we will look into one of the most important fields of dentistry - the root canal treatment process.
Hi, I am Dr. Shivani Patel - dentist in Conroe TX. Today, through this post we will be taking an in-depth look at the root canal process, its benefits and how it can help? Before we get started, let me ask you a question.
Did you ever undergo the root canal treatment process and had a poor experience?
Let us know in the comments. Comment with “yes” if you did and “no” if you did not. This will help me get an overview on what your thoughts are about this treatment process.
Well, without further adieu, let’s first start with understanding the definition of Root Canal.
Root Canal is a treatment used to save or repair an infected or damaged tooth instead of replacing it. The formal name of root canal - endodontic treatment, comes from the combination of two Greek words - “endo” and “odont” meaning “inside” and “tooth” respectively. Putting it in the simplest way possible - A root canal process includes cleaning the canal inside a tooth.
The Process of Root Canal Treatment
With the terms specified individually, now we know that it’s all about treating and cleaning that’s inside a tooth. But what do we actually have inside our tooth? What is its composition? How it is treated? To get into that, we’ll need to first understand what’s our tooth is made of.
Our tooth consists of the following:
- Periodontal ligament
Taking a look at the image on the right will show you the parts of a tooth. You can also see that the pulp includes the soft tissues and nerves reaching up to the bottom.
When it comes to the root canal treatment, the whole purpose is to reach to the pulp and treat it - a process of removing it and replacing it with a pulp like material, thus providing relief to the toothache from infection or any other problem. In case of a root canal treatment, dentists primarily deal with the pulp. But reaching to the pulp requires creating an access to it from the top, i.e., the crown. Typically, a hole is drilled on the crown for getting that access. However, in case you have a tooth filling done previously or a denture, the dentist will start with either removing the filling and so on.
What is the Pulp in a tooth made of?
It is a soft tissue that contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. During the development phase of a tooth, it is the pulp which is responsible for providing nourishment to the tooth. Once a tooth matures, the pulp is left with one single function - sensory. A fully mature tooth doesn’t require further nourishment for growth or for functioning.
This means, if you are getting a root canal treatment there is no need to worry about missing the necessary nerves and tissues. After all, it doesn’t do anything after the growth phase. Replacing it with an alternative pulp like substance which feels like a jelly, can in turn, prevent infections that can cause trouble if not treated.
Step by Step Root Canal Treatment Process
Before getting on to the process, your dentist will go on for a detailed diagnosis of your tooth. You might also undergo a series of x-rays. Make sure to co-operate with your doctor as its the diagnosis that will help him/her determine the way of administering the treatment process. With the completion of the examination process, the steps will include the following:
- Administering the Anesthesia
Your dentist will administer anesthesia or sedation via injections to numb the tooth and the tissues surrounding it. Sometimes it takes a while before the numbness takes over. This is not the case every time and may persist only if the pulp in a tooth is inflamed, which is inevitably painful. Well, any dentist wouldn’t start the treatment until and unless the area for treatment is completely numb.
- Creating a Sterile Environment
Following the process of sedation, you dentist will make sure to undertake the treatment process in a clean and sterile environment to avoid infections. The dentist will make use of a device called the dental-dam - a thin sheet of vinyl or rubber. Did you know that the human saliva and rest of the mouth contains a huge amount of bacteria? Isolation of the tooth undergoing root canal ensures isolation, thus preventing chances of infection from the bacteria present in your mouth.
- Creating an Access Hole
With the completion of a sterile environment, begins the first step of treatment - creating an access hole. In this step, your dentist will drill a hole through the biting surface of the affected tooth gaining access to the pulp chamber for the root canal treatment.
- Cleaning Out the Pulp Chamber
Once your dentist gets access to the pulp chamber, he/she will initiate the cleaning process. In this step the dead or diseased pulp tissues will be removed through the use of modern technologies and instrument. Since it’s the dead pulp that causes the pain, removing the pulp relieves the tooth from pain and the tooth doesn’t feel the pain any further. While the process involves drilling and cleaning, which according to many is the prime source of pain, don’t worry, the anesthesia will continue its work by keeping the area numb.
Post the cleaning, the dentist will apply antiseptic and antibacterial solutions to disinfect the tooth and the area being treated. Why do it again when in the beginning we talked about creating a sterile environment?
We constantly create saliva in our mouth and the bacteria can flow in to the area of treatment. Thus, application of the antiseptic will not only act as a precautionary measure but will also sterilize the area from the dead or diseased pulp.
- Preparing the Tooth for Receiving the Fillings
This is one of the most important steps in the root canal treatment process. After disinfecting the area, the pulp chamber is prepared so that it can receive the fillings and seal the gap. But this isn’t an easy task. It’s not just filling the hole but to ensure:
- No air gaps are left.
- The filling adequately covers the entire area and no gap is left on the edges.
Proper and adequate filling acts as a defense for the tooth allowing it to avoid any further infection or disease. If necessary, your dentist might initiate another round of cleaning before applying the sealants just to be 100% sure that no debris are left behind in the pulp chamber.
- Application of the Root Canal fillings or Sealants
Well, this step usually means filling the empty space with a pulp like substance. The most eligible substance used for root canal fillings is a rubber like substance, medical name: gutta-percha, a thermoplastic material. It’s heated, mixed with adhesive cement called the sealer and compressed in the empty space against the walls of the root canal.
As I mentioned earlier, sealing is done with ultra precision to avoid any gaps. This prevents the tooth from getting reinfected with bacteria.
- Filling and Sealing the Access Hole [Space Created for Gaining Access to the Pulp Chamber]
Filling the top includes the use of either a permanent or a temporary filling material. In most cases, it depends on your individual condition and requirement. In some cases, if your tooth is not eligible to hold the restoration, i.e., the filling in place, your dentist might make use of a post inside the canal allowing the filling to stay at its place. The dental-dam is also removed post sealing.
You must also know that opting for a permanent filling, if your case doesn’t require otherwise, allows you to prevent the tooth from getting reinfected by bacteria.
In the beginning, I pointed that many patients avoid this treatment and opt for dental implants. Yes, if your tooth has reached a stage where the root canal process can’t aid to your need sufficiently, an implant can be wise. After all, it’s better to have an implant post in the jaw bone than in the canal. But, if your individual case can hold the final filling of the access hole easily, it’s not always necessary to go for implants. To avoid any dilemma, it’s wise to let your dentist decide the treatment process and then take you through the explanations.
Root Canal Post Treatment Experiences and Prescription Medicines
With the completion of the treatment process, you will need to follow the instructions of your dentist. You will be advised to maintain a checklist for a week because you will need a few days up to a week to get over with the root canal treatment. During this time-frame, you’ll get a list of what to eat and what not to, prescription medicines that usually includes anti-inflammatory pills and pain-killers.
Remember, it’s not unusual to face some discomfort with the treated area. If, the problem persists for more than a week, visit your dentist for a check-up at the earliest.
Symptoms that Demands Root Canal Treatment
There are many instances when your dentist might suggest root canal treatment as per the complications [usually diseased or dead pulp] you are suffering from which includes:
- Rotten taste around a tooth or in the mouth
- Feeling pain or discomfort while opening your mouth or while chewing
- Mild or severe toothache
- Swelling in the gum around the tooth
- Fever from pain in the oral cavity
Benefits Of The Root Canal Treatment Process
ONE MAJOR BENEFIT - Root Canal saves your natural tooth. Other benefits include:
- Checks the formation of abscess
- Checks the spread of infection to adjoining and adjacent tooth through the removal of bacteria
- Immediately relieves you from the pain. You won’t find the need to continue taking painkillers and fall prey to its notorious side-effects
- You will be able to enjoy all pleasures like chewing, biting and talking normally post a few days from the treatment.
- Root Canal treatment doesn’t require tooth removal. This means you get to keep your natural tooth, intact.
Root Canal treatment is just among the many treatment procedures in the genre of dentistry. In today’s time, the use of advanced technologies and equipment ensures 100% precision and successful filling.
Are you interested in knowing more about the root canal process? Let us know in the comments and we will be happy to take you through. We are Grand Central Dentistry - one of the renowned dental office in Conroe, TX. You can call us for a consultation or for an appointment or reach us through our Contact Us page. We look forward to meeting you in person and provide you with quality care in the most convenient way possible.