What is root canal treatment?
Every tooth has soft, living tissue known as dental pulp that contains nerves and blood vessels. These vessels are connected from the pulp chamber to ends of the tooth via root canals. When dental pulp becomes inflamed or degenerate due to decay or injury, a toothache occurs. In the past, the conventional way of treating a toothache was by extraction; but now, we can treat a toothache and save teeth with root canal treatment instead.
Root canal treatment removes the infected nerves and pulp from the inside of the tooth. The tooth is then clean and sealed and the patient leaves pain-free.
When do I need root canal treatment?
You require root canal treatment if you have:
- Tooth decay
- Damaged Teeth
What is the procedure for root canal treatment like?
- An X-Ray will be taken to check for any infection and the length of the roots.
- Prior to root canal treatment, local anaesthesia may be applied to numb the tooth. A small shield may also be placed over the tooth and mouth to keep it clean.
- The tooth will be drilled to provide access to the pulp chamber and root canals in the tooth.
- The pulp, bacteria and nerves will be removed from the tooth and it will be cleaned out using root canal files.
- Once the tooth is clean, your dentist will place fillings in the clean canals and seal it. (Some dentist may leave it for a week before sealing the tooth i.e if there is an infection, medication will be applied)
Root canal treatment can be lengthy due to the complex structure of root canals. Hence, some patients might require more than one visit to complete the procedure.
Is root canal treatment painful?
Local anaesthesia will be applied to numb the tooth so the patient will not feel any pain. At most, some discomfort like a jabbing movement will be felt.
Is root canal treatment safe?
Yes, root canal treatment is a safe and common treatment that saves teeth from being extracted everyday. If you have decayed or damaged teeth, it’s best to seek treatment as early as possible to prevent extracting the whole tooth or spreading the infection to neighbouring teeth and bone.
With that said, there are potential risks that include root canal perforations, irritation at the apex of the tooth from disinfectant solutions and filing instruments and fractured instruments. However, these risks are very low, especially if the procedure is performed by a skilled dentist.
What happens after root canal treatment?
Root canal treated teeth are more prone to fracturing, especially if they are broken down due to infection. Thus, it is advised not to bite down on hard food. The tooth may also feel sensitive. Patients should also follow up with their dentists for the appropriate restoration treatments, such as adding on a filling or crown, as eventually the tooth will get more brittle and discolour over the years. When well taken care of, a root canal treated tooth can last for a very long time.
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