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Root canal treatment is a medical treatment used to eliminate tooth infection. This procedure can also keep the tooth from future infection. The dentist will remove the tooth pulp inside the tooth root canal.

Here are a few fun facts about a root canal treatment:

  • It all boils down to removing the nerves inside the tooth pulp

  • It is usually free of pain or a little painful but is a remedy for toothaches

  • It is also called endodontic therapy

  • The cost can vary but is cheaper than that of tooth implant, dental crown, and dental bridge

What is a root canal treatment?

The root canal is a part of the tooth. It is an empty room inside the tooth carrying nerves, blood vessels, and other tissues. All of which are referred to the tooth pulp.

The tooth anatomy consists of a tooth crown above and a tooth root below the gum line. The tooth root helps keep the tooth bound in place with the jaw bone.

The tooth pulp provides nutrition for the tooth and moisture for both teeth and gums. The nerves in the tooth pulp help sense hot and cold temperatures as well as pain. Without the pulp nerves, the tooth normal functions are still not affected.

Root canal treatment is carried out to treat damaged teeth due to cavities or severe infection. During the procedure, the nerves are removed and the root canal is cleaned, then the tooth hole will be sealed. If you don’t receive root canal treatment in time, the tissue surrounding the tooth will get severely infected and may result in abscesses.

Why should you receive this treatment?

When the nerves and tooth pulp are damaged, bacteria will grow in the root canal and destroy the tooth structure. The tooth can be infected and tooth abscesses may form after that. An abscess is the formation of a sac of pus at the end of the tooth root occurring when the infection has spread all over the tooth. Besides tooth abscesses, an infected root canal can also cause:

  • Swelling that can spread to other parts of the face such as the neck and head

  • Loss of bones surrounding the tooth root

  • Loss of nutrients to keep tooth alive and healthy

Standard root canal treatment

A root canal treatment usually includes 3 main steps which will take you several days or more to complete, depending on your tooth condition.

Standard root canal treatment

1. Clean the root canal

Your dentist will administer local anesthesia around the affected tooth and drill a small hole on its surface. Next, they will use specialized tools to remove damaged or dead pulp tissues in order to clean the root canal completely.

2. Fill the entire root canal 

Your dentist will clean and sterilize the empty space in the root canal using specialized tools. They will then use a dental material as an adhesive cement to fill the hole completely.

After the treatment, the tooth is considered dead. You will feel nothing at the tooth whose pulp has been removed as the nerves and infection have been eliminated.

3. Attach a dental crown or perform dental filling

A tooth whose pulp has been taken out will be more “vulnerable” as it now receives nutrition from just the periodontal ligament. The tooth will also become more brittle with time, and hence, a crown or tooth surface filling is needed to give extra protection.

Avoid chewing or biting with the affected tooth until your tooth is crowned or filled completely. You can return to your normal diet when the tooth has been fully restored.

The duration of root canal treatment depends upon your oral condition and whether there are any incidents after the procedure. Your dentist will set appointments with you to complete your root canal treatment plan.

After the procedure

Your tooth may get more sensitive for a few days after treatment due to the inflammation of the natural tissue, especially when you have had an infection beforehand. This discomfort can be managed with non-prescription pain medications such as ibuprofen or naproxen.

Also, avoid chewing with the side of the treated tooth after a root canal to prevent infection from recurring and the tooth from breaking before it has fully recovered

What is the success rate of root canal treatment?

The success rate of this treatment is rather high, typically more than 95%. Many people who have undergone this treatment lead a normal life without any problems.

As the final step of the root canal treatment is attaching a dental crown or receiving restorative tooth filling, no one will ever recognize your tooth pulp has been removed.

Complications after the treatment

When the tooth pulp has been taken out, the root canal will be empty, which will make the tooth more prone to breaks. Attaching a dental crown to the affected tooth can give better protection. However, sometimes a crack is not detected during the procedure and the dentist will have to remove the tooth even though the procedure has been performed.

In some cases, the dentist may have trouble finding the root canal as it has become thin or calcified, which may cause a tooth hole. If the hole is not serious, the dentist can perform tooth filling to restore it. Otherwise, the tooth may need to be removed.

A tooth infection can recur due to improper tooth filling, poor oral hygiene, or filling materials breaking off over time. Sometimes, when there is more than one root canal in a tooth and the dentist has missed the sub-root canal, myelosuppression can occur. This sub-root canal may also have infected tissues, and hence, it needs cleaning and filling.

The upper teeth can be located too close to the sinus cavities and, sometimes, the tooth roots even “penetrate” into sinus cavities. Therefore, obstruction of sinus cavities can occur during root canal treatment due to inflammation or infection around the tooth root.

Discoloration is also possible after the treatment. If that is the case, the tooth will turn dark yellow, brown, or more gray than the adjacent teeth. If this discoloration affects the appearance of your teeth, especially when it comes to the front teeth, you can receive teeth whitening, dental veneers, or crowns to improve this problem.

To ensure your safety and minimize serious complications after root canal treatment, do your research and opt for trustworthy, high-quality dental clinics with a team of experienced dentists.

Healthy, radiant teeth are what makes a beautiful smile. So how to best take care of your oral health? It’s recommended that you and your family members should visit your dentist once every 6 months to get timely diagnosis and treatment for any oral problems.

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