The Basics of Root Canal Treatment

December 7, 2017 by TBOadmin1230

Image of a female patient and her dentist preparing for root canal treatment


When a tooth is so damaged through decay or cracking that future infection is a certainty, root canal treatment becomes necessary.

The most common endodontic procedure is known as a pulpectomy, where the dental pulp is removed to prevent further infection. In this treatment, the dentist will drill into the pulp chamber (if that’s still necessary), and infected pulp is removed. After that, the nerves will be drilled out of the canals themselves, and then fill in the canals with inert material. This procedure is also known as root canal therapy.

What is a root canal and how is it done?

Root canal therapy doesn’t necessarily start with the surgery itself. For some cases, gum blisters may have developed, and it may be necessary to drain the abscess by cutting at the gums and letting the pus leak out. Antibiotic treatment will then be prescribed. This will make it easier for the anesthetic to work for the actual surgery itself. The attending dentist will also have to check if the patient is having tooth-grinding concerns, as that can also trigger pain attacks.

A pulpectomy combined with root canal treatment may also be performed, where all the pulp will be removed and a temporary filling and dressing will be applied, until the pain and infection lessens enough for proper surgery. A similar treatment, pulpotomy, leaves the nerves in the canals. This treatment eliminates most if not all of the pain. As the nerves and blood supply are removed from the tooth, it will be necessary to fit a crown for it.

A crown covers the grinding edge of the tooth, and seals the treated tooth. However, unlike natural teeth, a tooth that has had its blood supply and nerves removed is actually more susceptible to decay, given that the patient cannot fail the pain anymore. Also, the tooth structure isn’t hydrated by blood anymore, making it more prone to damage. Regular visits to the dentist for X-rays will ensure if the root canal surgery is successful, or if further treatments are needed.

How painful is it after a root canal?

When done properly, a root canal treatment is said to be painless. The pain reported by people who have undergone root canal treatment is mainly caused by the tooth infection and not by the procedure per se. Patients will experience sensitivity and discomfort around the treated tooth for five days at most. there are medications that the surgeon will provide you during the root canal procedure and after the treatment for home use.

Why is a root canal done in two visits?

Patients with complicated cases including those with curved roots or serious infection will need the procedure to be done in two stages to ensure that the necessary steps are made to prevent reinfection. Patients undergo crown installation a few weeks after root canal treatment to seal the tooth properly.
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