Root canal treatments are one of the most dreaded of dental procedures. If the dental decay is left untreated, it progresses deep inside the tooth and reaches the pulp tissue. Root canal treatment is done to replace the infected pulp with a filling. The treatment is used to save the teeth which would otherwise need to be removed. Let us understand the procedure in detail.
How does tooth get infected?
The root canals of teeth consist of nerves and blood vessels, which nourish the teeth providing oxygen and nutrients. When the dental decay in the outer layers of the teeth is neglected, it progresses to the root canals, where the nerves and blood vessels get infected and inflamed. The inflamed pulp tissue dies and is replaced by infected material and pus. This causes pain and swelling, and if left untreated may cause damage to the surrounding bone structure resulting in tooth abscess. Hence root canal treatment is done to remove the infected pulp and replace it with a filling.
Once the infected pulp is removed, the nutrition for the tooth comes from the tissues surrounding the tooth. Other reasons that may damage the teeth and cause infection are accidental cracks, leakage from the fillings and infection from the gums reaching to the base of the roots.
Root canal procedure:
Also known as endodontic treatment, the root canal treatment involves cleaning and sterilizing the root canal and removing the infected tissue. The procedure is carried out by your dentist over two or more visits depending on the situation. If the tooth has an active infection, antibiotics are prescribed for 3-5 days to reduce the pain and infection. Local anesthesia is given prior to treatment so that the patient is comfortable. First of all, a rubber dam is placed around the infected tooth to ensure the tooth is dry during the treatment and to prevent contamination of the canals. After opening the upper layer of the teeth with a dental drill, the dentist will access the pulp chamber of the tooth and remove the infected pulp.
The next step is to clean the interior of your tooth by using a series of small files. With the help of these tooth files, the pulp chamber and canal is cleaned and enlarged. This part may take several hours and may need to be carried out in multiple visits. It also depends upon the tooth that is infected. The premolars and molars have two or three roots with multiple canals, hence the more roots the teeth have, the longer the treatment will take to continue. During the first visit, temporary filling is done after the tooth has been thoroughly cleaned.
During the next visit, the temporary filling is removed, the canal is filled and the tooth is sealed with a crown. The crown protects the root-filled tooth from fracturing.
Avoid eating hard foods until the treatment is complete. Maintain a good oral hygiene by regular brushing and flossing. Limit your intake of sugar and colas. With proper care, your treated tooth can last a lifetime.