Root canal treatment is designed to eliminate bacteria from the infected root canal, prevent reinfection of the tooth and save the natural tooth. When one undergoes a root canal, the inflamed or infected pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed.
A root canal treatment is used to repair the damaged inside of a tooth. It is also called endodontic treatment.
It involves drilling a hole into the tooth and removing the soft centre, known as the dental pulp. The dental pulp is made up of connective tissue, nerves and blood supply, and extends into the roots of the tooth. After the pulp is removed, the space is filled and sealed.
The crown, or surface of the tooth that is used for chewing, may also be replaced if necessary.
Root canal therapy can be performed by your regular dentist or a specialist endodontist.
First, the dentist takes an x-ray of the tooth to see the shape of the root canals and determine whether there is any infection in the bone around the tooth.
A sheet or rubber called a rubber dam is placed over the tooth to prevent contamination. You will be able to breathe normally.
The dentist will use a local anaesthetic to numb the area around the tooth before drilling a hole in the tooth to remove the pulp. Each tooth has between 1 and 4 canals, depending on the tooth. All of the canals will be cleaned, shaped and disinfected.
It can take several appointments for the dentist to clean and shape the hole inside the tooth before placing a sterile filling inside. Between treatments they will seal the tooth with a temporary filling and may place a metal band around the tooth to protect it.
When the treatment is finished, they will fill the canal space with a material called gutta percha. They may also insert a small support into the root canals to strengthen the tooth. They may cap the tooth with an artificial crown if necessary.
Root canal therapy can be more uncomfortable than a normal filling, because it takes longer, but it is often no more painful.
The cost varies depending on how complex the problem is and which tooth is affected. Molars are more difficult to treat; the fee is usually more. Most dental insurance policies provide some coverage for endodontic treatment.
Generally, endodontic treatment and restoration of the natural tooth are less expensive than the alternative of having the tooth extracted. An extracted tooth must be replaced with an implant or bridge to restore chewing function and prevent adjacent teeth from shifting. These procedures tend to cost more than endodontic treatment and appropriate restoration.
A root canal, or endodontic therapy as it’s also called, is the removal of the entire pulp throughout the root canal system within a tooth. A tooth can have several roots and a canal or two within those roots. Once the infected pulp is removed from the canal, the canal is cleaned, shaped, and filled with a synthetic filling. Then a dental sealant is applied to the tooth.
Common root canal symptoms can include:
Severe tooth pain and tooth sensitivity that worsens over time (be sure to read Country Dental’s article about Toothache Causes, Symptoms and Remedies)
Swollen or tender gums near the infected area and bad breath
Pus-filled pimple around the gum
Abscess in the jawbone (visible on an x-ray)
Darkening of the tooth
Keep your teeth decay-free by brushing and flossing every day. Eat a healthy diet low in sugar and avoid acidic beverages such as soda. Have regular professional cleanings and exams. And if you’re active in sports, consider ordering a custom-made mouthguard to protect your teeth from injury.
As with most dental care, root canals have evolved dramatically over the decades, now boasting a 95% success rate. Properly performed root canal treatments can ensure the repaired tooth lasts a lifetime with little to no additional future dental work required.
The only way to save a natural tooth with damaged, inflamed, or infected dental pulp is to remove the pulp via a root canal; neither cleanings nor fillings will address the problem. As such, the only alternative to a root canal would be tooth extraction, which is the removal of the entire tooth. To maintain proper oral function—including chewing, speaking, and dental alignment—the tooth would need to be replaced with an implant, bridge, or partial denture. Tooth extractions are a permanent loss of a natural tooth, and no restorative options other than dental implants will feel or function like having a natural tooth. Root canals allow dentists to save teeth, while extractions are a last resort for most dentists and endodontists.
An emergency root canal is not necessarily much different than a scheduled or planned root canal; both result from the same cause—inflamed or infected dental pulp inside a tooth. However, the treatment has probably become an emergency because the inflammation or infection has gone untreated too long and the pain is now unbearable, the tooth is severely damaged, or there is pus oozing from around the tooth. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of an infected tooth (swelling or tenderness in the gums, tooth or gum discoloration, extreme sensitivity, or severe pain when chewing), your best option is to contact a dentist right away and avoid the emergency altogether.Because of the local anesthesia, your mouth will be numb for 2-4 hours following a root canal procedure, though most patients return to work or school the same day. The best way to recover from a root canal is to treat any sensitivity or discomfort with over-the-counter pain medications like naproxen or ibuprofen and to avoid eating anything until the numbness is entirely gone to prevent damaging the newly-repaired tooth without knowing it. Continue with good oral care, including brushing and flossing; attend all follow-up appointments; and keep regular bi-annual cleaning and exam appointments.
If you decide against having a root canal done, the only other alternatives are natural tooth loss or having your infected/damaged tooth extracted. This is not the recommended course of action to take because a lost or pulled tooth will leave a gap in your smile which will prompt the adjacent teeth to shift out of alignment in an effort to close that gap. This can hamper your ability to chew food properly which can lead to problems with digestion. And, since misaligned teeth are more difficult to clean, you could end up with tooth decay or gum disease to cause even more problems that can be painful and costly to treat.
Yes, absolutely! You can avoid tooth decay by doing a great job with your oral hygiene every single day. You also should try to avoid eating foods high in sugar and drinking acidic beverages like soda and fruit juices to help protect your teeth from decay. Additionally, you should visit your Mundelein dentist at least once per year so we can examine and clean your teeth. We also highly recommend wearing a custom-made mouthguard whenever you’re playing sports or doing anything that poses a risk of injury to your teeth.
Depending on your endodontist and the severity of your root canal, the dental procedure will usually take between 30 and 90 minutes. Some endodontists prefer to perform the entire root canal in one visit, while other endodontists prefer to do the root canal in several appointments in order to let the tooth dry and be able to disinfect a second time before filling. The number of root canal appointments will also affect the total length of the procedure.
As stated above, you can expect some tenderness around the area where the root canal was. Post root canal treatment instructions will usually include:
Wait to eat until all the numbing has come out of your mouth.
Avoid chewing or biting on the tooth until it has been restored by a crown.
Continue to brush and floss your teeth as normal.
Return to normal activities after the anesthesia has worn off.
If your tooth is decayed and you leave it untreated, you will make matters worse because the decay will spread to other teeth. If you wait until you are in a significant amount of pain, your dentist might have to perform a root canal on more than one tooth. This will cost you more money than if you had taken care of it much earlier.
Root canals are performed under local anesthesia and generally no more painful than other routine dental procedures like wisdom teeth removal or fillings. However, as with other dental procedures, there may be some numbness, soreness, or mild discomfort for 24-48 hours after the root canal treatment as a result of tissue inflammation. For most patients, the pain of the infected tooth is significantly greater than any pain or discomfort felt post-procedure.
Root canal treatment is extremely safe and effective treatment. Root canals have been performed for over 200 years, and advancements in technology, instruments, techniques, disinfectants, and pain management continue to make the treatment even more predictable and successful. Root canals are intended solely to preserve a natural tooth and prevent any reinfection and are much safer than the alternative to an infected tooth extraction.
An emergency root canal is not necessarily much different than a scheduled or planned root canal; both result from the same cause—inflamed or infected dental pulp inside a tooth. However, the treatment has probably become an emergency because the inflammation or infection has gone untreated too long and the pain is now unbearable, the tooth is severely damaged, or there is pus oozing from around the tooth. If you are experiencing any of the symptoms of an infected tooth (swelling or tenderness in the gums, tooth or gum discoloration, extreme sensitivity, or severe pain when chewing), your best option is to contact a dentist right away and avoid the emergency altogether.
You may have some tenderness or mild discomfort when biting down that can last for a couple of days following your treatment. You can take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory pain reliever like ibuprofen according to package instructions to relieve you of any discomfort you feel. We recommend chewing on the other side until a permanent restoration such as a crown is placed on top of the treated tooth.
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