In the dentistry jargon, root canal treatment is a name of a dental procedure where the root of an infected and decayed tooth is treated. The cleaning of the decay and bacteria from the roots of the tooth is called root canal treatment.
Root canal treatment is very common across the world and millions of people all over the world go through it every year. Root canal has become more common in recent years because of improved technology and ease of the procedure.
The latest procedures for root canal are very simple and fast, nothing like older version, where the patient would worry about the treatment for days on end. The treatment is used widely today to save the original tooth by removing abscess and decay from the roots and cleaning them of bacteria.
Usually, it gets over in one sitting or may be two in some cases. And the patient is normal, and can carry on with his routine life.
Where are the roots of a tooth situated?
The tooth is made up of three layers. The outer most is called enamel which is the white, the next to enamel is dentin which gives your tooth its white colour and underneath dentine is the pulp. This is made of soft tissue which carries blood vessels and nerve endings which are required for the growth of teeth while they are developing. After the teeth have developed fully, the pulp is not needed as such because the tooth gets nourishment from the tissues which surround the tooth.
Root canal treatment falls under endodontic treatment in the profession of dental care and treatment. It is a delicate procedure which can be performed by a qualified dentist only. As the science of dentistry progressed, it became evident that the best chewing apparatus are our natural teeth.
Whenever we develop any dental issues, the dentist will try to solve the problems in all possible ways so that the natural tooth remains in place because the natural tooth is fixe in such a way that the chewing and biting processes are carried out efficiently and less maintenance is required if it is taken care of properly. That is why the number of root canal treatments are on the increase so that we can save our natural teeth as long as it is possible.
Since the roots carry live nerve endings and blood vessels, it is important to numb the area before the root canal procedure begins. Since your dentist will administer anaesthesia to numb the area before the procedure begins, there is no question of pain during the root canal procedure. For some people though, root canal may cause a little discomfort for a few hours afterwards. The place may feel sore or numb after the procedure but you should be fine within an hour or two.
What are the symptoms which indicate you may need root canal treatment?
Root canal treatment is always suggested by your dentist, based on your symptoms and your dental examination.
The following includes some of the indicators for root canal.
- Sensitivity in teeth, while eating very hot or cold foods, pain during eating; biting and chewing,
- Development of pimples on the gums
- Injury on the tooth, a chipped and cracked tooth.
- Inflamed gums,
- Tenderness in the gums especially around the affected tooth,
- Dark red gums.
How long does the recovery period last?
The recovery period depends on the anaesthesia that is used to numb the surrounding area where root canal is needed. In most cases, the effect of the anaesthesia wears off after an hour or two. But this is just a feeling of numbness. When our lips and part of cheek are numb, we feel awkward, but other people do not notice it, therefore, you can go to work or back to whatever you are busy with, immediately after the root canal treatment although you may feel the numbness, which should be wearing off fast. You should refrain from eating until after your numbness in the mouth has worn off completely. This is to stop food falling out of the mouth as you are not in control of the numbed area.
Is root canal expensive?
In developed countries, the cost depends on the insurance policies you have. If root canal costs are covered by the policies, then you may just have to bear nominal charges for incidental expenses. Most insurance policies cover endodontic treatments to some extent. Root canal treatment will prove to be less expensive because the dentist is restoring your original tooth, rather than extracting it. If the affected tooth is removed, the replacement of the missing tooth may be more expensive, because a bridge, or an implant would be needed to enable chewing process and also to stop adjoining teeth to shift in the empty place, creating more dental problems. To save these future expenses it is always better to go for root canal so that your original tooth is not lost.
The root canal procedure
When you visit your dentist for tooth ache or inflamed gums or sensitivity in the teeth, he will examine your mouth for decay and dental caries. When the decay is found in the affected tooth, he will arrange for an orthodontic surgeon or he may do it himself if he has the required credentials. At the appointed time, he will inject anaesthesia in the gums and cheeks so that you do not feel the pain. After ascertaining that the area is numb, he will insert tiny needles from the upper tooth to the root of the tooth and remove decay with very tiny needles. This may take 10 to 15 minutes. Depending on how bad the decay has spread, he may call you for another appointment next day and continue with the same procedure. After all the decay and bacteria has been removed, he will disinfect the cavity with a disinfectant liquid and fill the cavity with a dental filling. If needed he may call you again to cap the tooth with a crown.
Is root canal treatment long lasting?
Usually when root canal is done, the dentist clears the decay that has set in and removes bacteria and decayed pulp and debris along with it. This procedure creates a hole in the tooth which needs to be filled, otherwise it may develop further decay. It also will be less stable because it has become hollow after root canal. This space is filled up by the dentist with a tooth friendly material or dental cement. Then to keep the dental filling in place the dentist will cap the tooth with crowns.
When this procedure is completed, the restored tooth can last for a lifetime.