Some people fear to undergo a root canal procedure because of the pain and high cost they expect. But is it really that painful and expensive? What do most people know about the root canal anyway?
In this article, you will learn about the top ten questions most patients have about root canals and how it can bring back your bright smile.
What is a root canal?
The term “root canal” came from the specific part of the tooth subjected to the treatment. It is a hollow section where blood vessels, nerve tissue, and other cells, which is commonly called the “pulp” are located.
The pulp is the focus of root canal procedures. This part of the tooth is responsible for nourishment and the supply of moisture to the area surrounding it. The nerves inside the pulp transmit pain signals to the brain after sensing hot or cold temperatures.
Endodontic therapy is commonly referred to as the “root canal” due to its focus on the part of the tooth with the same name. During the procedure, endodontists remove the infected components of the tooth and seal it up to prevent future infections.
Will the root canal be painful?
While it is often thought to be very painful, the root canal is actually a pain-relieving treatment. This is because it works by removing the damaged nerve tissues from the pulp of a tooth. This is where most toothaches come from.
During root canal treatments, the infected tooth is disinfected and sealed to avoid future damage. In doing so, the endodontist relieves the patient of any feeling from the area where the procedure was performed.
As for the procedure itself, a root canal is generally painless if performed by a licensed expert.
How is the root canal performed?
The root canal therapy procedure is straightforward.
First, the diseased or dead pulp tissues are removed from the root canal using tiny files inserted via a small access hole drilled into the tooth’s surface. This is done with the help of local anesthesia, so it is relatively painless.
After this, the hollow space is cleaned, shaped, and disinfected with the help of files and irrigation solutions. Then, the area is filled with a rubber-like substance and sealed with an adhesive tooth cement to avoid contamination.
By the end of the therapy, the infected tooth would already be dead, so the patient will no longer experience any sensation from it.
Do I need a dental crown after a root canal?
Because it no longer has a pulp, the tooth will need to get nourishment from the ligament that links it to the bone. Although this supply is enough, the tooth will inadvertently become more brittle over time. Dental crowns provide much-needed protection for the tooth that is now more fragile.
For this very reason, it is highly recommended that patients who underwent root canal treatment avoid biting or chewing with the tooth until a crown is installed.
How long will a root canal procedure take?
On average, you should only spend roughly one to two hours in the endodontist’s clinic for the procedure. However, the exact length of the procedure would still depend on several factors, including the type of tooth to be treated and other details of the procedure.
Generally, root canal therapy can be done in a single session. However, cases that involve large infections, curved canals, and multi-canals may require two or more additional sessions until the teeth are fully treated.
Can root canal save every tooth?
Although root canals can deal with most teeth, special cases where a huge fracture or lack of bone support to hold the tooth are involved may be the exception. In these cases, the endodontist may choose not to perform the procedure.
How do I know if I need a root canal?
A root canal is often recommended for people with injured or diseased teeth. Once the pulp becomes infected, the tissue can no longer repair itself and eventually dies. This can occur with a cracked tooth, a loose filling, or a deep cavity.
Some of the common signs that may indicate the need for a root canal include:
- Severe pain when chewing, biting, or any form of tasks that applies pressure on the tooth
- Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures for extended periods even after the source has been removed
- Darkening of the tooth
- Tenderness or swelling of nearby gums
- Recurring or persistent pimple-like growths on the gums
An infected tooth will remain such until the root canal is performed. If the treatment is delayed, there’s a good chance that the infection could spread and cause an abscess. This indicates that the infection has already reached the surrounding tissues and the jawbone.
In some cases, people who develop abscess also experience fever, swollen neck glands, bitter taste in their mouths, foul breath, and even a draining sore on the gums.
Who can perform a root canal?
Root canals can be performed by a special kind of dentist called endodontists.
These licensed professionals are experts in root canals – from diagnoses to treatment and management. This is because they received advanced education focused on the matter. Endodontists also dedicated more time and attention to treating infected dental pulps, which makes them specialists in the field.
Are there cheaper alternatives to root canal?
The short answer is, no. However, you must understand the reason behind that.
When the pulp of an infected tooth is infected or inflamed, the only possible alternative to root canals is tooth extraction. While this may seem cheaper from the get-go, extracting the tooth requires additional procedures to restore proper function and keep the other teeth from shifting.
In most cases, dentists would recommend a surgically placed implant or bridge to prevent the adjacent teeth from moving. However, these can be more costly than undergoing root canal treatment, even with the dental crown installation for teeth restoration.
With that said, it is still best to try to save and restore the infected tooth with the root canal.
Are there any complications after the procedure?
Like any other procedure, complications may occur during root canal therapy. Although this is quite rare, some of the instances that make root canals more complex include:
- Only three root canals were found when the tooth actually has four. That single untreated canal can still cause the infection to spread to the gums and jawbone.
- The filling didn’t go far enough into the canal. The purpose of adding fillings to the hollow canals is to prevent the infection from returning. If the filling doesn’t go all the way through the bottom of the canal or it isn’t sealed properly, the infection may resurface.
- A cracked tooth or broken instruments during the procedure. Broken tooth or instruments can make it difficult to fill and seal the canal effectively.
Should these complications occur, a specialist should perform corrective procedures to complete the root canal. To avoid any other complications, you must always follow instructions given by the endodontist.
Be sure to take the entire prescription if an antibiotic is required. You must also undergo permanent restoration in the form of fillings or dental crowns after the root canal therapy is complete to prevent future damage to the tooth.
Know Your Root Canals
Fear comes from the lack of knowledge on a specific matter, and root canals are no exception. To make an informed decision on whether to undergo the procedure or not, you must ensure that all you get the answers to your questions first.
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