Most people might already know of root canal treatment. But while many people are familiar with the term “root canal”, there are still a lot of misconceptions concerning what this treatment entails and what it is for. In addition, many believe that it is a major procedure that will be inevitably painful for anyone undergoing this treatment.
The truth is that root canal treatment (also known as endodontic treatment) is one of the most common procedures in dentistry. Furthermore, it is much less painful as many people are led to believe.
Since there are so many myths and misconceptions surrounding the root canal procedure, we at Brighton Implant Clinic hope to explain this treatment in more detail. In this article, we will take a closer look at what root canal does, why it may be needed, and the steps that go into performing this procedure.
When Is Root Canal Needed?
Before we explore when a person may need to receive root canal treatment, it is important to first know the anatomy of a tooth.
Each tooth has three main layers. At the exterior, you have the enamel. This is essentially the outer shell of a tooth. Beneath this outer layer is the dentin that supports the enamel. Finally, at the very core of the tooth is the pulp. This is where the root of the tooth is housed.
The pulp is the softest part of the tooth. And while it is normally protected by both the dentin and the enamel, it can still get infested with bacteria as a result of injury or decay. This can lead to a condition known as pulpitis.
When a Patient Has Pulpitis
Pulpitis comes in two forms; reversible and irreversible. When a tooth has reversible pulpitis, it means that the pulp has an infection but can still be treated and saved. However, if a tooth has irreversible pulpitis, it has degraded to such a degree through infection that it must be removed. This form of pulpitis is also one of the most common reasons for needing root canal treatment.
When a Patient Has a Dead Tooth
Another cause behind root canal treatment is to treat a blackened or dead tooth. This can happen when the nerves or blood supply connected to a tooth suffer damage due to injury, decay or infection. If untreated, a dead tooth can result in a great deal of discomfort, spread infection to other parts of the mouth, turn black and eventually even fall out.
How Does Root Canal Treatment Combat These Problems?
Whichever of these two reasons behind needing root canal treatment, your tooth is either dead or dying. By performing the treatment, a dentist or endodontist can save the tooth and prevent the spread of infection. This is achieved by removing the pulp, nerve and other soft tissue from the pulp chamber. This area is then cleaned and disinfected before resealing the tooth.
What To Expect From Root Canal Treatment
The first thing to note is that root canal treatment is not as painful as you might think. Many decades ago when the procedure was much different, it was associated with extreme pain. However, the advances in the techniques and tools used by professionals have helped to make it a far less painful experience.
This treatment will usually begin with the dentist administering a local anaesthetic to numb the tooth and the surrounding area. Once this is done, the dentist will place a dental dam around the tooth to keep the area clean and dry during the procedure.
With the patient ready for the procedure, a small drill will be used to create an access hole in the top of the tooth. The dentist will then use a small set of files to removed the damaged pulp. At different point during this procedure, the dentist may switch between using these files and irrigating the pulp chamber with water in order to clear away any infected tissue.
Once the infected pulp has been removed and the chamber has been shaped, an antimicrobial treatment will then be applied to the tooth to kill any remaining bacteria. Once this has been done, the tooth is cleaned and dried. The dentist will then fill and seal the tooth. In some cases, a crown and maybe even a post may need to be placed to fully restore the tooth.
What Happens After The Treatment
There is the chance that you may feel some discomfort for a few days after the root canal treatment. However, this is a completely natural reaction to inflammation as a result of having work done to the tooth. This should subside after a couple of days and can usually be managed with standard pain relievers. If the pain is severe or if it persists, you should contact your dentist.
In regards to caring for your teeth after a root canal, you should stick to your normal oral hygiene routine. Brush at least twice a day and floss. You may also want to consider using an antiseptic mouthwash for the first few days after the procedure.
Patients may need to revisit the clinic for a follow-up appointment in some situations. There are some circumstances where the patient may need to wait for a crown. In which case, the dentist will apply a temporary filling and schedule another visit. In the following appointment, the permanent filling and crown can be applied.
If you have a temporary filling following the first visit, it is best to take care of that area. Try your best to avoid chewing with that part of the mouth until that tooth is sealed and filled permanently.
In conclusion, there is much less to fear about root canal treatment as many people may think. In addition, ignoring the signs of pulpitis or a dead tooth will definitely cause more problems. It is important to contact your nearest endodontist straight away if you notice these kind of problems.
At Brighton Implant Clinic, we offer both standard and complex root canal treatments. Established in 2009, we have 5 clinics spread across Sussex and a team of experienced and knowledgeable dentists, dental nurses and dental technicians.