A root canal procedure is most commonly done on extensively decayed or damaged teeth that have become infected. This treatment is usually undertaken as a last resort to preserve the tooth after all other forms of restoration have failed. The root canal procedure entails removing the infected pulp and nerve supply of the tooth and rendering it non-vital. This is followed by disinfection and sealing of the tooth to prevent further infection.
Learning that you need a root canal procedure can be a source of anxiety for most patients. However, it is a relatively painless and straightforward procedure that is routinely performed by most dentists. Since root canal treatments are usually done on teeth that are already diseased and damaged beyond repair, one may wonder why not only remove the infected tooth and replace it with an artificial one.
The primary reason behind opting for a root canal treatment is to prolong the life of the natural tooth in the mouth. A non-vital natural tooth is always more beneficial than an artificial replacement. Maintenance of natural teeth allows for more efficient chewing and biting, and also maintains the natural appearance of the face.
What to Expect in a Root Canal Procedure?
While single-sitting root canal procedures are becoming more common now, these treatments are usually completed in multiple sittings. After the initial assessment, the dentist cleans out the tooth’s root canal that contains all the blood and nerve supply of the tooth. This is the only living portion of the tooth and is responsible for the propagation of infection and disease.
- The process is carried out under local anesthesia and hence, is usually completely painless.
- A small hole is drilled onto the top surface of the tooth, which becomes the access opening for the cleaning procedure.
- The dentist uses small instruments known as dental files that look like needles to clean out the root canal.
- Intermittent irrigation with sodium hypochlorite and saline solution is used to disinfect the canal during the procedure further.
- Once the root canals are thoroughly cleaned and sterilized, the tooth is sealed permanently.
Most dentists recommend the placement of a dental crown to be carried out a few weeks after the root canal procedure. This is because the structural integrity of a tooth is significantly compromised after a root canal treatment, and the dental crown offers extra protection to the tooth against physical forces.
How Soon Should a Root Canal Procedure Be Done?
Once the dentist has recommended a root canal treatment for a tooth, it is advisable to get it done as soon as possible. In cases of an infection, the dentist will usually prescribe an antibiotic to help control the infection before starting the root canal treatment. Antibiotics often cause the symptoms of an infected tooth to subside temporarily, which may result in patients delaying their root canal treatment. It should be noted though that antibiotic is not capable of treating a tooth infection completely and cannot compensate for the need for a root canal treatment.
Unnecessarily delaying a root canal treatment can lead to worsening of the infection, which can potentially spread to other areas in the mouth and even your heart. While the loss of the infected tooth is the commonly expected outcome of ignoring a root canal treatment, more severe problems like rheumatic heart disease can also result due to uncontrolled tooth infections.
For more information about root canal procedures and who needs this kind of treatment, get in touch with our expert team of staff at Brooklyn Blvd. Dental.