Even the most diligent of people forget to brush or floss their teeth from time to time. But if you haven’t been getting regular check-ups with your dentist, you’re at risk for some serious dental health issues. You may end up with mouth sores, suffer from inflamed gums, or even lose a tooth due to infection or decay. If you’re afraid of losing your teeth, there may still be a way to save them. In this article, we’ll discuss the usual root canal treatment procedure, and why you may want to consider it.
Root Canals, Infection, and Tooth Decay
Inside of your tooth is a space called the pulp chamber. This is where you can find the root canal system as well as the dental pulp, which contains connective tissues, blood vessels, and nerves. It makes up the soft core of your teeth and extends from your crown all the way down to the tips of the roots. If your tooth gets chipped or cracked, bacteria can get into it, causing the pulp inside to become infected or inflamed. Patients with inflamed dental pulps experience intense pain due to the swelling and pressure inside of the affected teeth. Over time, this can cause the pulp to die and the tooth to decay. While the pain may go away temporarily, the infection can spread to surrounding tissues and bone, resulting in serious illnesses.
Symptoms of Infected Root Canals
While not an exhaustive list, some of the most common symptoms of infected root canals include the following:
- holes in the tooth
- swelling of the gums
- increased sensitivity to temperature
- swelling around the face and neck
Does Root Canal Therapy Hurt?
Though they do involve your tooth’s nerve endings, this procedure is relatively painless thanks to advancements in dental technology and anaesthetics. In fact, getting root canal therapy can greatly reduce the pain you may already be feeling due to an infected tooth. To control the pain, your dentist will administer a local anaesthetic to numb the tooth and the surrounding area. Though it will take some time to take effect, your dentist won’t start the treatment until the tooth feels completely numb. He or she will also check in with you regularly to make sure you’re comfortable and don’t feel any pain.
How Root Canal Therapy Works
Root canal therapy involves cleaning the canals inside the root of the affected tooth. Dentists will take X-rays of your teeth to determine how bad the damage has become. They will also review your dental and medical history in order to give you the best and safest treatment possible. If you’re anxious about the surgery, ask your dentist for anti-anxiety medication or oral sedatives to help you calm down.
During the actual procedure, dentists numb the tooth and nearby tissue by injecting a local anaesthetic. Then, they place a dental dam over the affected tooth keep bacteria away from the affected tooth, ensuring a sterile working environment. Dentists then use an endodontic file to drill an access hole through the tooth’s crown in order to reach the pulp chamber and root canals. They then use special tools to remove the diseased or dead tissue. After disinfecting the canals using antibacterial and antiseptic solutions, dentists use small flexible instruments to shape the canals. This is so that the canals can properly receive any fillings and sealers your tooth may need. Once done, the dentist will remove any remaining debris in the root canals with another thorough cleaning.
With the canals ready for filling, dentists will fill them in using a thermoplastic material called gutta-percha. This is done to keep the canals from getting infected again after the procedure is done. Then, the dentists will seal the access hole with a temporary or permanent filling material. Should the tooth be unable to keep its filling in place, a metal or plastic post may be placed in one of the canals. After the surgery, patients may be prescribed to take antibiotics to keep infection at bay. Patients may also need over-the-counter medication like aspirin or ibuprofen to manage any pain or discomfort. Eventually, the patient will need to completely seal the affected tooth by having an artificial clown installed in the future.
Is Root Canal Therapy for Me?
If you want to save your affected tooth, root canal therapy is exactly what you need. Otherwise, the best alternative is to completely remove the affected tooth and replace it with something else. You could choose to get partial dentures, but they tend to slide around inside of your mouth, causing pain and discomfort, especially while eating. You could also opt for dental implants, but you’ll have to say goodbye to your natural tooth. If you’re still unsure, you could always consult with your dentist on the best treatment for your specific case.