By Dr Yannopulos · Published April 28, 2018

All you need to know about root canal treatment

All you need to know about root canal treatment preview image

Preview image for All you need to know about root canal treatment

Repairing damaged tooth to save it from extraction – that is RCT or Root Canal Treatment in a nutshell. Dentists will recommend this treatment to save badly infected teeth. When you hear about Root Canal, you may imagine it to be associated with terrible pain, but what the treatment does is save your teeth. It involves removing the bacteria inside the teeth and restoring the health of the teeth.

Root canal refers to the pulp that is present in the core of the teeth. If the bacterial infection is not removed, it grows and affects the whole teeth and damages it. This can also later spread to the gum tissue and create more infection in the oral region.

Tooth decay can occur due to a variety of reasons which lead to decay in teeth. Trauma to the face or cheek region can also sometimes lead to infection in pulp. If a tooth is chipped, bacterial build-up in the area can cause tooth decay. Unhealthy diet habits can also be one of the reasons for tooth decay.

Root Canal Treatment procedure

The following are the typical steps that you would need to go through for the treatment.

1) X ray is taken
In order to ascertain the extent of damage to the teeth, an X ray of may be taken. This is typically the first step.

2) Local anaesthesia
The dentist will numb your teeth by injecting the surrounding area with a local anaesthetic. You will feel a small pinch when the needle is inserted. After a few minutes, numbness will set in.

3) Isolation of tooth
Isolating the infected tooth is important, to allow the dentist to conduct the procedure with ease. This process is called placing the dental dam. The aim is to isolate the teeth and keep it free from contamination during procedure.

4) Opening and drilling of the teeth
After the tooth is isolated, the main process is initiated. The dentist will use a drill to gain access to the pulp or core of the infected tooth.

5) Cleaning of the teeth
After the tooth has been drilled, the infected pulp is removed. The dentist will make sure that the entire cavity is thoroughly cleaned, anti-bacterial liquids may also be used to clean the cavity and get rid of all infection.

6) Filling the tooth cavity
Immediately after cleaning, a temporary filling is made by the dentist and the cavity is closed. Later on, a more permanent covering will be made. Usually after this, dentist may recommend other dental restoration procedures such as placing dental crowns to make sure there is more permanent care for the damaged teeth.

What happens after Root Canal Treatment?

The root canal procedure as such is not as painful as you may imagine. As your teeth and gums are numb during the process, the pain is bearable. After the numbness wears off, you might feel some pain and soreness in the teeth where the treatment is done. Rinsing mouth with warm salt water will help to ease the pain.

After root canal is done, you might experience sensitiveness of the teeth, but this will get back to normal after a few days. If there is pain, then the dentist will prescribe some pain killers to help you ease the discomfort. Chewing hard food is best avoided with the teeth that have undergone treatment.

But do watch out for any other symptoms that persist. If you notice any symptoms such as severe pain in the tooth, swelling in the gums etc., consult your dentist rather than leave it as something normal after root canal.

After care

Visits to the dentist will also be part of the procedure, this is done to ensure that infection of the teeth does not recur. It is also important that proper oral hygiene is maintained at all times.

You need to be careful when brushing or flossing teeth. There would be some soreness, so it is important that you are careful when brushing. Do take care not to put extra pressure on the gums and teeth.

If you have a temporary filling in your teeth, then you need to take care of the type of food you consume. Crunchy hard food and snacks should be avoided as sometimes they can force out the filling. You need to be mindful of the food only till the temporary filling has been restored. You can check with your dentist for further guidance.

Maintaining oral hygiene is very important even after root canal treatment. This is to make sure that dental health does not go downhill.

Ensuring the health of teeth is a person’s own responsibility and dentists help by providing guidance and treatment in cases when more support is needed. Avoiding foods that can cause stains or erode the enamel of the teeth, staying away from smoking or drinking alcohol, brushing and flossing regularly etc. go a long way in maintaining dental health.

Regular dental check-ups are important, once every 6 months is what is generally recommended. But the frequency may be more if you have any dental issues. This is because even if one follows a regular oral hygiene regime, it’s only through dental examination can really know if there are any small cavities or damages developing in the teeth or not. Some hard to reach places may have plaque deposits; a dental examination can bring all this out in the open and you may start treatment if necessary.

If you have any doubts about how to maintain oral health, talk to your dentist during your dental examination session. For severe infection of teeth, the dentist may suggest root canal treatment to save your teeth from being extracted.