All about Root Canal treatment

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What is root canal treatment/ Endodontic treatment?

If we check the scientific meaning “Endo” is the Greek word for “inside” and “odont” is Greek for “tooth.” Endodontic treatment treats the inside of the tooth.

Root canal is a treatment to repair and save a badly damaged/ infected tooth instead of removing it. It is called “root canal” treatment because in this we treat the canals present inside the roots of the teeth. If saving a tooth is not possible by root canal treatment, then other options of treatment become extraction of the damaged tooth, and then replacing the tooth with a dental implant, bridge or removable partial denture.

What causes the need for root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment is needed when the pulp present in the root canal, becomes inflamed or infected. This inflammation or infection can occur due to deep cavity or a crack in the tooth. Also, a traumatic injury to a tooth may cause pulp damage even if there is no visible fracture line on the tooth. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess formation.

How do I know that my tooth needs root canal treatment? If you experience one or more than one from following symptoms, it mean you might need a root canal

  • Deep cavity with severe pain while chewing
  • Pimples on the gums
  • A chipped or cracked tooth
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold, even after removal of the causative agent.

Is root canal treatment painful?

Many patients worry that root canal treatment will be painful, but now latest technologies and anaesthesia options have made root canals into a mostly pain-free procedure.

For the first few days after treatment, your tooth may feel sensitive, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure. This discomfort can be relieved with anti-inflammatory drugs. After completion of root canal treatment, your tooth may continue to feel slightly different from your other teeth for some time, but if you experience severe pain or pressure on biting which lasts for more than few days, visit your endodontist.

How is root canal treatment done?

Root canal treatment can be performed in one or two visits depending on condition of the tooth. During root canal treatment, after giving local anaesthesia, the endodontist gains access to the root canal system to remove the inflamed and infected pulp from the inside of a tooth. After the pulp is removed, the pulp cavity is thoroughly disinfected and cleaned. After thorough cleaning and shaping, the dentist fills the tooth and seals it with a special material called gutta-percha. Finally, the tooth is restored in form crown or filling so that the patient can continue to chew and bite on the tooth without any problem.

Advantages of Having a Root Canal vs. Tooth Extraction

Most of our patients at Perfect teeth root canal and implant clinic realize the importance of saving their natural teeth through root canal treatment. By this treatment, patients can preserve their natural teeth for as long as possible. If you lose a tooth, you may have a gap in your smile or you may have trouble eating or even speaking clearly. Loss of tooth means that patients must undergo prosthetic intervention with crown and bridge or dental implants which is more expensive than saving your natural teeth. As a general rule, it’s best to preserve your natural teeth as long as possible before resorting to prosthetic options.

Advantages of getting root canal done?

One of the biggest benefits of root canal treatment is that it removes pain and infection from the tooth giving a new life to your badly damaged tooth. With good dental hygiene, and routine dental check-ups, a root canal treatment can last a lifetime without issues.

Some patients feel as if tooth extraction would be the more affordable choice if compared to root canal treatment, but in reality, tooth extraction requires more follow-up appointments than root canal treatment and often, patients have to get a denture, bridge, or implant, which costs higher than root canal treatment. So, affordability and ease of treatment are other benefits of getting a root canal as compared to tooth extraction.

Other major advantage of root canal treatment is preserving aesthetics. Teeth which have become infected may turn yellow, brown, or even black. After root canal treatment and crown, the tooth actually looks better than it did before it became infected.

So, before you decide against root canal treatment on the basis that it could be painful or that tooth extraction is a cheaper option, be aware that both of these statements are myths. So, if you have an infection in the pulp of your tooth, the best, pain-free and most affordable option for you to fix the problem permanently is to get a root canal done as soon as possible.

Can all teeth be saved by root canal treatment?

Most teeth can be saved except in few conditions like badly damaged teeth, root is severely fractured, root canals are not accessible, the tooth doesn’t have adequate bone support, or the tooth cannot be restored.

Myths about Root Canal Treatment

Myth 1: Root canal therapy is painful.

There is a continuous fear that root canal is a painful procedure. But, the truth is root canal therapy is performed to relieve pain. Root canal treatment is needed when an untreated deep cavity spreads to the pulp of your tooth and causes an infection. This is where the pain comes from, not the procedure itself.

Root canal procedure is done after giving anaesthesia, following which you hardly feel anything during the procedure. After completion of the treatment, pain which was present before treatment, disappears, and your tooth is saved.

Myth 2: A root canal is a costly treatment. Having a root canal along with crown always remains less expensive than extracting a tooth and then replacing it with a bridge or a dental implant.

Myth 3: Completing a root canal requires several appointments. Root canal therapy may be completed in one to two appointments depending on many factors like extent of the infection, difficulty in manipulation of the root canal system and feasibility of the treatment. Ultimate goal of root canal treatment is to save the tooth. The appointments necessary to completely restore the tooth, should not be considered part of the root canal process.

Myth 4: The benefits of root canal therapy are temporary. Results from a root canal are long-lasting. Root canal treatment relieves toothache and preserves the affected tooth indefinitely.

Myth 5: Root canal kills the tooth. A root canal does not kill the tooth, and after completion of the root canal treatment, the tooth will be able to function as it normally does. Though, during root canals we remove the nerves present inside the tooth, but these nerves serve very little function in a fully formed tooth. 

Myth 5: Extraction is better alternative to root canal treatment.

Sometimes, patient feels root canal treatment as expensive affair but unfortunately, the patient may be unaware that a tooth extraction will eventually create a need for more expensive procedures like dental implants or bridges. These procedures require more time in the dental chair, and extensive prosthetic work making them much more expensive than a simple root canal.

More importantly, root canal treatments conserve healthy tooth structure. While dental implants and bridges may be durable replacements, healthy, natural teeth will always be stronger and more functional than its prosthetic counterpart.

Dr Nisha Garg

MDS (Conservative Dentistry and Endodontics)

Rajindra Hospital, Patiala, Punjab, India

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