- by Dr. Karanjit Dhillon
- August 8, 2022
Root Canal is a dental treatment that alleviates pain an infected or abscessed tooth can cause. The soft centre or the inflamed pulp made up of nerves, connective tissue & blood vessels that help the tooth grow is removed in the procedure, relieving the patient from discomfort and pain.
The surfaces inside the tooth are cleaned and disinfected after removing the infected pulp and a filling is eventually placed to shut the space.
The procedure is usually performed under local anaesthesia by an endodontist or a dentist.
Who needs a Root Canal?
The oral bacteria can sometimes infest the soft inner part of the tooth, the pulp, inducing pain, inflammation & even infection. A root canal then becomes essential.
Even when the pulp is dead, the crown or cap of the tooth can remain intact and getting rid of the infected pulp can help to preserve the structure of the tooth.
How does the Pulp get damaged?
The following causes can lead to damage to the pulp:
- A long-standing untreated cavity which has caused serious decay
- A cracked, chipped or damaged tooth due to an injury.
- A particular tooth having undergone multiple dental procedures
- An internal injury to the tooth even when the crown is not damaged.
Symptoms of Tooth Infection
The patient in some cases may not be aware of the infection in the tooth. However, some symptoms can be an indication of the need for a root canal. These symptoms include:
- Chronic tooth pain: A deep pain and discomfort in the tooth, radiating to the jaw, face or other teeth.
- Sensitivity to hot and cold food: Sensitivity and pain on consuming hot or cold foods and the pain that persists for more than a few seconds indicate a need for a root canal treatment.
- Swollen Gums: An infected tooth can accumulate pus in the affected area. This can cause puffiness, swelling or tenderness in the gums.
- Foul smell: A pimple or boil that develops on the gums can ooze pus present in the infected tooth, causing an unpleasant taste or smell.
- Swelling in the jaw: An absence of drainage from the infected site can result in a swollen jaw.
- Discolouration: Poor blood supply to the tooth due to infection can make it look darker.
- Loose tooth: The bone that supports the tooth can soften because of the pus from the infected pulp. This can cause the tooth to become loose.
How should I prepare for the Root Canal Procedure?
Our team at Morgan Hill Dentistry makes sure to answer all your concerns about the procedure. A few things you can do to prepare for your root canal treatment are:
- Take all antibiotics or anti-inflammatory medications that may be prescribed a few days before the appointment, particularly if there is a lot of infection present.
- You should avoid Smoking for many days before the procedure as Tobacco products impede the body’s ability to heal itself.
- Eating a healthy meal before the appointment is recommended since the local anaesthesia used during root canal therapy will make the mouth numb for a few hours.
What is the Root Canal Procedure?
A procedure of root canal should be performed in a dental office by a competent and experienced dentist. First of all, an examination of the tooth is done by the dentist and X-rays are taken to confirm the diagnosis and determine the magnitude of damage to the tooth.
The steps include:
Anaesthesia: Local anaesthesia is given by first placing a small amount of numbing medication on the gum near the affected tooth. A local anaesthetic is then injected into the gums once the area is numb. Some other medications like nitrous oxide, oral sedatives or intravenous sedation may also sometimes be used to help the patients who face dental anxiety, to relax. Sedation Dentistry is one of the specialities of Morgan Hill Dentistry, providing our patients with a pain-free experience.
Dental dam placement: A small rubber dam is placed over the area before starting root canal treatment, to separate the tooth and keep it dry during the procedure.
A small opening is then made in the crown of the tooth to reach the pulp.
Pulp Removal: Tiny dental instruments called files are used to remove the nerves, blood vessels and tissues inside the tooth and clear all the pathways or canals in the tooth carefully.
Shaping the Canals: The pulp chamber and root canals are cleaned, disinfected by coating a topical antibiotic and shaped after removing the pulp.
Filling the Canals: The dentist uses a flexible, rubbery dental material called gutta-percha to fill the cleaned and disinfected canals. A soft, temporary dental filling is used to seal the tooth and prevent bacteria from re-entering and also to prevent the canals from being damaged by saliva.
- Placing the final restoration: Most patients need a dental crown to protect the treated tooth and restore the comfort and bite. The crown is custom-made of a natural-looking material, preserving the facial aesthetics. The fabrication normally takes two to three weeks. Once the crown is ready, the temporary filling is removed and the permanent crown is placed. Sometimes the patient may be able to receive a crown during the same appointment itself.
How long does a root canal take?
One of two appointments may be required for the procedure depending on the amount of infection. The complete root canal treatment takes about 30 to 60 minutes. However, if the tooth which is infected is large with multiple roots, the time can go up to an hour or more.
What to expect after the Root Canal procedure?
A little soreness and swelling may be experienced after the numbing medication wears off but can be easily treated with over-the-counter pain medications such as Tylenol or Advil. Some sensitivity to the tooth may also be felt initially. However, if the pain becomes severe or remains for more than a few days, one should call a dentist.
Normal eating can be resumed after the effect of the anaesthesia wears off. However sticking to softer foods like pasta, mashed potatoes and yoghurt is recommended for the first couple of days. One can introduce solid food as the pain and discomfort decrease. Biting or chewing with the treated tooth should be avoided and the other side of the mouth used to chew the food until the permanent dental crown is in place.
You can resume your normal activity the same or the next day. However, for the patients who are given sedation during the dental procedure, a day or two more may be needed to recover fully.
A safe and effective restorative procedure, the positive outcome of the root canal can last for the rest of life provided one follows good oral hygiene habits. Brush your teeth twice daily and floss once a day. Use an antibacterial mouthwash and visit our dental office for regular checkups.
A Note from Morgan Hill Dentistry
A very safe procedure, Root Canal can help save the tooth.
Consult our expert team if you notice any symptoms, such as tooth pain, swelling, bad taste or other warning signs of tooth decay or infection. Remember a timely treatment of the infected tooth can help to save it.
Regular dental check-ups give the dentist a chance to perceive problems before they worsen and save you from the risk of infection.
We perform several Root Canal treatments every year and our team is proficient at taking care of your health and comfort. All Covid Protocols are strictly followed leaving you with no reason to worry.