ROOT CANAL TREATMENT
A root canal is a treatment to repair and save a badly damaged or infected tooth. The procedure involves removing the damaged area of the tooth (the pulp), cleaning and disinfecting it and then filling and sealing it. The common causes affecting the pulp are a cracked tooth, a deep cavity, repeated dental treatment to the tooth or trauma. The term “root canal” comes from cleaning of the canals inside the tooth’s root.
The most common causes of pulp damage or death are:
• A cracked tooth
• A deep cavity
• An injury to a tooth, such as a severe knock to the tooth, either recent or in the past.
Once the pulp is infected or dead, if left untreated, pus can build up at the root tip in the jawbone, forming an abscess. An abscess can destroy the bone surrounding the tooth and cause pain
What to Expect During a Root Canal
If you think you need a root canal, consult your dentist. There are a number of steps that occur over a few office visits.
1. X-ray – if a dentist suspects you may need a root canal, he will first take X-rays or examine existing X-rays to show where the decay is located.
2. Anesthesia – local anesthesia is administered to the affected tooth. Contrary to popular belief, a root canal is no more painful than a filling.
3. Pulpectomy – an opening is made and the diseased tooth pulp is removed.
4. Filling – the roots that have been opened (to get rid of the diseased pulp) are filled with gutta-percha material and sealed off with cement.
Tips for Care After a Root Canal
A treated and restored tooth can last a lifetime with proper care. Root canals have a high success rate. Here are a few ways to take care of your teeth after a root canal:
• Practice good oral hygiene – brush teeth twice a day, and floss at least once. Taking care of your teeth can help prevent future problems.
• Visit the dentist regularly – cleanings and examinations by dentists and hygienists.
• Avoid chewing on hard foods – chewing on hard foods such as ice can cause teeth to break, and can harm root canals.
How Painful Is a Root Canal?
Root canal procedures have the reputation of being painful. Actually, most people report that the procedure itself is no more painful than having a filling placed.
How Successful Are Root Canals?
Root canal treatment is highly successful; the procedure has more than a 95% success rate. Many teeth fixed with a root canal can last a lifetime.
Also, because the final step of the root canal procedure is the application of a restoration such as a crown or a filling, it will not be obvious to onlookers that a root canal was performed.
Root Canal Prevention
Since some of the reasons why the nerve of a tooth and its pulp become inflamed and infected are due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures on a tooth and/or large fillings, following good oral hygiene practices (brushing twice a day, flossing at least once a day, and scheduling regular dental visits) may reduce the need for a root canal procedure. Trauma resulting from a sports-related injury can be reduced by wearing a mouth guard.