If you are experiencing sharp tooth ache or pain while eating, localized to a particular tooth, then chances are you might require a root canal treatment or RCT. Root canal treatments are a common procedure carried out by the average dentist. But you might be wondering what exactly is an RCT and how is it going to help you.
Let me begin by saying that it is the best practice to visit your dentist every year for an annual check-up to avoid any invasive treatments such as root canal treatments or tooth extractions. However, if your dentist suggests that you need a root canal treatment then there’s no need to be worried. Millions of teeth are treated and saved from decay this way each year, relieving pain, and making teeth healthy again.
Inside your tooth, beneath the hard, white enamel and dentin layer, is a soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp is made up of blood vessels and nerves that provide nutrition to help the tooth fully grow and develop. Once fully developed, your tooth can still survive without the central pulp as the tissues surrounding the tooth are capable enough to fully nourish it.
A root canal treatment is a dental procedure involving the removal of the pulp when it is injured or infected. The crown of the tooth (the white part you see above your gums) can remain intact even if the pulp inside is dead. Removing the injured or infected pulp is the best way to preserve the structure of the tooth. During root canal treatments, the dentist carefully removes the infected pulp from inside the tooth, cleans, disinfects and shapes the root canals, and finally places a filling to seal the space.
Patients generally need a root canal when they notice their teeth are sensitive, particularly to hot and cold sensations. These are a few symptoms that may suggest that you might need a root canal—
– Severe pain while chewing or biting
– Boils/Pimples on the gums
– A chipped or cracked tooth after a fall or accident
– Lingering sensitivity to hot or cold, even after the sensation
has been removed
– Swollen or tender gums
– Deep decay or darkening of the tooth or gums
Most root canal procedures are done under anaesthesia. You may remain awake but the tooth is kept numbed to avoid the feeling of any pain during the procedure. Once numb, the dentist will make a small opening from the top of your tooth to expose the damaged pulp and infection. The dentist will then carefully remove it using special tools and instruments. Once the canals that hold the pulp are cleaned and disinfected, the dentist will fill and seal the tooth with a rubber-like filling material that is completely safe and well accepted by the body.
The dentist may also prescribe you oral antibiotics and/or place medications inside the canals before filling to clear the infection and help with the healing. The procedure ends by filling the small opening he/she created in the beginning with a soft temporary filling material to prevent contamination by saliva. You will be re-called in a few days to place a permanent filling/crown on the tooth.
Although you will be numb for 2-4 hours following the procedure, most patients are able to return to school or work directly following a root canal. However, it is advised against eating until the numbness is completely gone. Your tooth and gums might feel sore when the numbing medication wears off. Most dentists will have you treat these symptoms with over-the-counter pain medications. It is advisable to call your dentist if the pain becomes extreme or lasts for more than a few days. You should be able to resume your normal routine the day after the procedure. Avoid chewing with the damaged tooth until the temporary filling is replaced by a permanent filling. If you prefer, the dentist may place a permanent crown on the tooth. Crowns are artificial teeth that can be made from metal or porcelain. The benefit of a crown is its realistic appearance. It may take you several weeks to get used to how the tooth feels after the procedure. This is normal and is no cause for concern.
In conclusion, root canal treatments are necessary to return your tooth to functioning fully. It is a painless procedure that may be completed in single or multiple appointments depending on the severity of infection.
-Dr. Divya Symone Furtado