A root canal is the hollow part of the tooth that contains pulp tissues. Sometimes, the pulp becomes inflamed or infected, maybe due to recurring dental work on a tooth or decay. Such dental issues may necessitate endodontic procedures, commonly referred to as root canal treatment. It is a dental procedure that involves removing the pulp at the center of the tooth, which contains blood vessels, connective tissues, and nerves. The process is possible since fully-developed teeth do not require the contents of the pulp. Visible signs that one may need the treatment include persistent tooth sensitivity to heat or cold, swollen gums, or difficulty chewing. Delayed root canal treatment may foster bacterial infections, resulting in an abscess. The procedure typically requires one to three visits to the dentist, as discussed below:
Visit #1: Initial Process
Many patients often visit dental clinics with symptoms of infected dental pulps. Such patients will likely be assessed by endodontists who specialize in caring for dental pulps and roots. The endodontist will x-ray the infected tooth to determine the extent of the damage then administer local anesthesia to numb the tooth. They will then place a rubber sheet around the tooth to keep it clean during the procedure. The dentist will drill the crown to access the roots to remove the pulp. The next step entails using a filing tool to scrub the root canals, wash off debris in the cleaned areas, and seal the tooth temporarily to prevent contamination.
Visit #2: Follow Up
During the second appointment, the dentist will fill the hollow cavity left within the tooth. This is done using a rubbery substance called gutta-percha. The substance is mixed with an adhesive cement to seal the root canals, preventing unwanted sensitivity and bacterial infections. Finally, the dentist will permanently seal the cavity and take further restorative measures like adding a crown to protect the tooth.
Visit #3 Going Forward: Post-Treatment Care and Concerns
The main concern regarding root canal treatments is that they are painful. However, that is not entirely the case since anesthesia is used during the procedure. Any mild discomfort experienced afterward can be managed using readily available sedatives. Cost-related concerns are also common, but that should not be the case since it is cheaper than tooth extraction and replacement. It is advisable for patients who have undergone the procedure to avoid chewing or biting using the treated tooth until it has been fully restored. Other than that, routine dental hygiene like brushing, and flossing are allowed. Ultimately, with proper care, the treated tooth can last for the remainder of one's lifetime.