Tap to Read ➤

Root Canal Treatment

Nabil Mockbil Jun 27, 2019
We have all heard the words “root canal treatment” and cringed as we felt the associated fear and pain. Even if you have never experienced one personally, you know of someone who has, and it is never described as a pleasant experience.
The information here will attempt to dispel some of the negative feelings linked to root canal treatment by explaining clearly what happens during the treatment.

Why Do I Need a Root Canal

If you have a tooth that has been damaged, either by cracking or a cavity, the soft inner core called the pulp may become infected with bacteria causing pain.

The pulp stretches from the top of the tooth to deep inside the gum and it contains many nerves and blood vessels.
Over time, depending on the severity of the infection, you could form a painful abscess which can result in swelling of the gums and/or face and neck, temperature sensitivity and toothache.

Common Symptoms for Necessary Root Canal Treatment

  • Toothache - you will experience pain if the living nerve in the pulp is exposed. This pain may become generalised to a headache and/neck pain.
  • Temperature sensitivity - the affected tooth will be very sensitive to hot or cold exposure.
  • Abscess formation - this can come with swelling or bleeding around the affected area, including cheek, throat and jaw areas. An untreated abscess can spread into the jawbone & surrounding tissues. An infection spread further will require antibiotic treatment & a root canal treatment to completely clean out the decaying material in pulp canal.
  • Dental cavity - an untreated cavity can extend deeply into the tooth structure until the infection reaches the pulp. Once the nerves are affected, there may be extreme pain.
  • Physical damage to the tooth can also damage the nerves in the pulp. This may cause the eventual death of those nerves. This process can occur soon after the traumatic event or after some time.
  • Tooth fracture - a tooth may become cracked that is so deep that the pulpy section of the tooth is involved. If the damage is too extensive, the only option may be a root canal.
  • Root resorption - this process occurs when the tooth starts to dissolve exposing the pulp to infection.

Who performs the root canal?

A general dentist or a specialist called an endodontist can perform the treatment. An endodontist is a dentist who has specialized further in root canal treatments.

Your general dentist may decide to refer you to an endodontist if your treatment is expected to be too complicated or if you are having root canal treatment on the same tooth for a second time.

The Procedure

  • The procedure usually takes more than one visit- depending on the extent of the damage and the amount of tooth restoration required.
  • Each dental visit may take up to 90 minutes.
  • Dental X-rays will confirm the diagnosis and determine the level of damage for your dentist to proceed with the treatment.
  • A local anaesthetic like lidocaine is injected into the affected area. This will ensure you feel no pain during procedure.
  • A rubber sheet is applied to the affected tooth in order to keep that tooth clean & protected.
  • Your dentist will then carefully make an opening into the pulp area so that all infected pulp can be removed, and the canal flushed clean.
  • If required, medicine may be placed into the canal to remove any remaining infection.
  • A temporary filling is fit if the canal needs to drain over a few days.
  • Once the infection is completely cleared, a permanent dental filling is fixed.
  • Your tooth is ready for normal use after a crown is placed onto the newly-filled tooth.
  • There are various types of crowns and your dentist will advise you on the type that best suits you.

What to expect after a root canal?

Your “new tooth” will function like a normal tooth and with the correct dental hygiene, should last a long time.

You may experience some pain or sensitivity after the procedure, but this is easily treated with over-the-counter pain medicines.
You can chew your food on the other side of the mouth to give the affected area time to heal. However, if you’re still uncomfortable after more than a few days, consult your dentist.
Most people report that the pain is comparable a normal filling and they are able to continue with their normal daily activities immediately after their dental visit.

Root canal treatment actually gives patients relief from the pain caused by infected pulp.

Author Bio

Dr. Nabil Mockbil received his DDS in 2001 from Umea University in Sweden, regarded as having the best dentist programme in Sweden for undergraduates. He’s now the founder of Swedish Dental Clinic in Dubai.