If you are someone who shudders at the mere idea of a getting a dental cleaning done, a root canal may seem like a must-avoid procedure. On the contrary, the root canal is in itself a fairly pain-free dental procedure; rather it’s the symptoms that lead to the procedure that are painful. Here’s all that you need to know about a root canal and why you should never fear them!
What is a root canal procedure?
The dental pulp is the soft area in the centre of the tooth that contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue. A root canal treatment is needed when the dental pulp is infected or damaged. The treatment includes removing the pulp, cleaning and sealing the inside of the tooth.
After a tooth has emerged from the gums, the solitary function of a tooth’s nerve is to help sense heat or cold. In other words, the functioning of a tooth is not affected by the loss of a nerve. While a root canal procedure aims to save the tooth from decay or damage, the nerve can be removed if infected or damaged.
Refusing to treat dental decay or damage can lead to abscess formation or spread of infection resulting in pain and loss of teeth.
Look out for these symptoms
Here are a few symptoms that could indicate you need dental attention:
- Immense toothache while eating or drinking
- Extreme sensitivity to hot or cold beverages or food
- Swelling in the gums around the tooth
- Discoloration of the tooth
Root canal treatment process
Root canal treatment cannot be undertaken in one sitting. It requires a first appointment with a dental specialist to identify the extent of the damage. The dentist will typically recommend an X-ray to assess the infection and to study the layout of your teeth, gums and bones.
During the next sitting when the root canal procedure is undertaken, a local anaesthetic will be administered to ease pain or discomfort. The procedure will also entail drilling an access hole in the tooth, followed by cleaning out and removing the damaged pulp and nerves. After the tooth receives a thorough cleaning, it will be sealed.
The next session will be a few days or a week after the procedure as your teeth and gums need time to recover. Antibiotics may be prescribed to treat infections too. A temporary filling could be placed in the tooth to keep the site free of food substances and particles between appointments. Measurements are taken for a permanent filling, which will be fitted during the final sitting.
An Overview of Root Canals – WebMD