Root canal treatment (endodontics) is a dental procedure used to treat infection at the centre of a tooth (the root canal system).
What is root canal treatment?
Root canal treatment, also known as endodontic treatment, is the process of removing infected, injured or dead pulp from your tooth. The space inside the hard layers of each tooth is called the root canal system. This system is filled with soft dental pulp made up of nerves and blood vessels that help your tooth grow and develop.
When Is Treatment Needed?
Usually, root canals are recommended or needed when there is an infection deep within the tooth. The pulp inside the tooth can become infected with bacteria because of an injury or because of a severe, untreated cavity. Without treatment, the infection can become severe enough that the tooth has to be removed. If your dentist has recommended the treatment, here is a step-by-step guide of what you can expect during and after the procedure.
Why Root Canal Treatment?
Teeth don’t have the capability to treat themselves as it is the case in other tissues in our body such as live tissues (pulp) or nerves. For this reason, if there is inflammation in these tissues, canal treatment is necessary. Major caries, previously applied deep fillings, tooth cutting operations, cracks and fractures on teeth, etc. might cause the pulp to get inflamed even though there is no caries. If the inflamed pulp is not treated, it may cause pain, abscess and loss of teeth in future.
How do you understand that you need canal root treatment?
- Extended sensitivity to cold and hot
- Pain due to chewing pressure, inability to press on the teeth
- Pain that starts especially at night
- Change of color in tooth, swelling around the tooth, sensitivity in lymph nodes, swelling and pain
Does Root Canal Treatment Cause Pain?
The pain during the treatment can be minimized or completely eliminated thanks to modern anesthesia techniques. There might be slight pain or sensitivity after the treatment. If you have such complaints, your dentist will prescribe you suitable painkillers.
Is Root Canal Treatment Possible in all Teeth?
For certain teeth, root canal treatment may not be suitable. The main factors include clogging in the canals, presence of fracture in the root, insufficient bone support or damage on the teeth to the extent that restoration is impossible.
Does Canal Treatment Kill Teeth?
It is not a realistic idea that endodontic treatment kills the tooth. After the nerves have been taken out, tooth becomes senseless against thermal stimulus however it clings to the bone with the veins and nerves coming through the maxilla bone and continues fulfilling its tasks. You can chew comfortably with suitable restoration and use your tooth even as a prosthesis stand.
What else should I know?
Root canal treatment may be done in 1 or 2 appointments. After root canal treatment, your tooth may be tender for the first week or two. Bad pain or swelling are NOT common. If this happens, call your dentist or endodontist.
You can still get a cavity or gum disease after a root canal treatment. Root canal treatment does not protect your tooth from other types of damage. With proper care and regular dental visits, the tooth could last as long as your other teeth. Most of the time, a tooth that has had a root canal treatment can be saved. However, there are cases where everything possible has been done to save a tooth and still the tooth must be extracted (pulled).
Root canal retreatment
Most root canal treatments are successful. But in some rare cases, a second root canal treatment is needed. This is called retreatment. When retreating a tooth, the root canal filling material is taken out, and the canal is recleaned, reshaped and refilled.
Root canal surgery
Sometimes root canal surgery is needed when a regular root canal treatment cannot be done or when it has not worked. Surgery is done to:
- Remove parts of the root that could not be cleaned during regular root canal treatment.
- Clear up an infection that did not heal after regular treatment.