Root canal treatment (endodontics) is a dental procedure used to treat infection at the center of your tooth. The dentist will fill in any infected area so that it does not affect other healthy tissue around it and ultimately save you from having an entire tooth removed.
When is Root Canal Treatment Used?
The infection at the center of a tooth (the root canal) is caused by bacteria that live in your mouth and invade it. This can result from any number or factors including poor dental hygiene and even having sticky sweet treats too many times per day. Infection at the center of the tooth can also develop secondary to:
- Leaking fillings
- Tooth decay
- Damage resulting from trauma such as falls
When is Root Canal Treatment Required?
Root canal treatment is recommended when dental X-rays indicate that bacterial infection has damaged the teeth’s pulp. The pulp begins to die when affected by bacteria. It also allows bacteria to spread and multiply. Some of the common symptoms of pulp infection include:
- Pain when drinking or eating cold or hot food and beverages
- Pain when chewing or biting
- A loose tooth
As the infection progresses, the symptoms can disappear as the tooth’s pulp dies. While the affected tooth can appear to have healed, the infection has actually spread through the teeth’s root canal system. By this time, you will get another set of symptoms including:
- Pain when chewing or biting
- Swelling of the gum near the tooth affected
- Pus oozing from the affected tooth
- Facial swelling
- The affected tooth becoming a darker color
It is crucial that you visit your dentist if you experience a toothache. If the tooth is affected, the pulp won’t heal on its own. Leaving the infected tooth unattended will only make matters worse. There’s also a lesser chance of the root canal treatment working once the infection in the teeth has worsened.
How is Root Canal Treatment Done?
To treat the root canal infection, the bacteria needs to be removed first. This can be done by either of the two methods:
- Removing the bacteria from the root canal system (root canal treatment)
- Removal of the tooth (extraction)
Removing the tooth is not often the recommended option as it is always better to keep as many of the natural teeth as possible. Once the bacteria has been removed, the root canal is then filled. It is then sealed with a crown or filling. In most cases, the inflamed tissue will heal on its own.
Prior to the root canal procedure, patients will be given a local anesthetic. This is done to ensure the procedure is comfortable and painless. Root canal is typically a safe, effective, and successful procedure. In 9 out of 10 cases, the affected tooth can survive for up to a decade after the procedure.
What are Root Canal Treatment Aftercare Tips?
When recovering from root canal treatment, it is important to look after your teeth accordingly. The following tips should get your efforts off to a great start:
- The restored tooth will no longer feel painful although it can feel a bit sensitive for a few days.
- To relieve any discomfort or soreness, you might be prescribed over-the-counter pain medications.
- If you still experience swelling or pain after taking painkillers, it is recommended that you visit your dentist right away.
To help ensure the longevity of your treated tooth, the following tips can also help:
- Observe proper oral hygiene at all times (brush and floss at least twice daily)
- Give up consuming too sugary foods and beverages
- Give up smoking if you do smoke heavily
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