Most minds quiver when the words “root canal” comes into play. No one wishes to go through such a “supposed” ordeal. But surprisingly, some do not understand fully the term “root canal”. First, this term is not a treatment as many people believe it to be. It is a hollow section that makes up the tooth. In here, there are blood vessels, nerve tissues, and other structures that come together to form the “Pulp”. This section exists inside the roots (root canal) and the crown, which, in turn, makes up the tooth. Above the gum is the crown, while below are the roots, which connects the tooth and jawbone.
The pulp provides the right nourishment and moisture for the tooth and the surrounding nerves. The latter detects the temperature within its surroundings and interprets it as pain. Most people mistake endodontic therapy for “root canal,” of which the former is a dental procedure, which also means root canal therapy. Another misconception is the assumption that this treatment procedure is painful. Contrary to most people’s expectations, this dental therapy is a pain-relieving treatment, which helps get rid of the infection from the inner parts of a tooth. Other facts worth noting is that it can also help remove dead nerves from the pulp in a root canal.
Do People Experience Pain During this Dental Procedure?
It is not strange to find some people scared of undergoing endodontic therapy due to the misinformation surrounding the term. This dental procedure should be painless if done by a certified dentist. In some cases, the pain stems from the root canal infection, and not the dental treatment. The latter is not painful. On the contrary, it alleviates the existing pain of dental infection. One of the ways to relieve the pain is to numb the tooth and its environs during the root canal treatment, using local anesthesia.
During treatment, a patient may experience some tenderness, which is short-lived, as there are over-the-counter (OTC) drugs that alleviate it, including the likes of codeine. To prevent further infection or treat it fully, a dental surgeon may include an antibiotic on the prescription list.
Who Can Undergo Root Canal Therapy
Several factors may make a person undergo endodontic therapy, one of which includes injured or infected pulp. Such individuals require dental therapy to fix the infected tooth before extraction. However, there are cases where the pulp sustains injury or contracts an oral disease that causes it to die. This issues can occur under the following circumstances:
- When there is a loose filling
- When the tooth cracks
- When there is a deep cavity in the tooth
Under any of the circumstances, there is a high chance of bacteria gaining access into the pulp through the cavities in the roots and destroying it eventually. This situation could lead to a bone infection, where the bony tissues weaken and break down. One significant symptom is the inflammation of the ligaments surrounding the tooth, which, in turn, cause the tooth to lose its firmness.
Most people with this dental condition experience pain when chewing food particles, which may be prolonged – depending on its severity. As a result, immediate treatment is essential to prevent other areas from being infected. In severe cases, the dental surgeon will have to extract the damaged tooth, which may also affect other surrounding teeth – an option most people would reconsider. Hence, root canal therapy can get rid of the infection and keep the tooth intact. However, whereby this option is not achievable, an implant may be the next call.
Root Canal Therapy Process
To undergo an endodontic therapy successfully, a patient would have to complete the three processes involved in the treatment.
- Dental Scaling and Root Planing
In a simpler form, the dental surgeon would need to clean the root of the infected tooth; this is after administering local anesthesia to the patient. Once done, the specialist drills a small hole on the tooth and access the infected area with miniature files to extract the dead tissue.
- Root Canal Filling
Using the small files, the dentist fills the root canal with a rubber-like constituent known as gutta-percha and afterward, seals the filled hollow area completely using adhesive. Once this phase is complete, the pain ceases to exist as the infected has been extracted.
- Adding Filling
At this point, the tooth is free from infection and is nourished by the surrounding ligaments. However, it becomes more brittle over time. For this reason, the surgeon adds a crown or filling to strengthen the tooth. During this period, the patient is not allowed to bite or chew food substances on the treated tooth, until it is filled with a crown or filling.
Are There Complications?
There are no procedures without complications, which also applies to endodontic therapy. In some cases, a dentist may end up treating some root canals only to leave one behind, which increases the spread of infection into the bone. At other times, the root canal may be lacking in the filling, which can cause the infection to reoccur. Another potential issue is the cracking of the tooth during root canal therapy. Worse still, the dental instrument may damage the root canal if not handled professionally, making it hard to add a crown. However, most of these problems can be fixed. To prevent these dental issues, always ensure to follow the dental surgeon’s instructions. There is no one-size-fits-all cost for dental procedures. However, endodontic therapy is relatively affordable.
How to Effectively Prevent Root Canal Infection
There are several ways to prevent dental infection and diseases, such as gum disease, tooth decay, and root canal infection. The following provides answers:
- Use fluoride toothpaste regularly
- Regular teeth brushing helps to keep the teeth healthy – once before going to bed and at least once at any other time of the day
- Use a recommended dental toothbrush and replace it when due
- Floss the teeth to prevent plaque buildup and other dental irregularities
- Avoid foods and drinks that are unhealthy to the teeth, especially those rich in sugar
- Use dental sealants if possible to prevent tooth decay
- Regular dental appointments are necessary
Observing these points can help an individual maintain a healthy oral lifestyle.