Millions of teeth which are decayed or infected are treated and saved each year instead of removing it, with the help of root canal treatment, also called endodontic treatment. It relieves pain and makes teeth healthy again. It does so by treating the inside of the teeth i.e. the pulp which contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue and creates the surrounding hard tissues of the tooth during development.
This treatment is done by a general dentist or by an endodontist. An endodontist is a dentist who has received advanced training and specializes in the care of the inside of the tooth i.e. dental pulp or nerve of the tooth, but all dentists receive some training in endodontics as part of their studies. A general dentist typically decides on a per-case basis whether to perform a root canal or refer the patient to an endodontist.
Root canal treatment is very similar to a routine filling and can usually be completed in one or two sittings, depending on the condition of your tooth and your personal appearance. Getting a root canal is relatively painless and extremely effective. You will again start smiling, biting and chewing as you did before in a very short period of time.
Root canal treatment has the following advantages:
- Efficient chewing.
- Normal biting force and sensation.
- Natural appearance.
- Protects other teeth from excessive strain and wear out.
When does it become necessary to go for root canal treatment?
- When the inside of your tooth which is called the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. This is sometimes caused by deep decay, repeated dental procedures, faulty crowns or a crack or chip in the tooth.
- Trauma is another reason which can cause pulp damage even if the tooth does not have any visible chips or cracks.
- One should also keep a check on symptoms such as:
- Severe tooth pain when chewing foods or application of pressure.
- Prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold.
- Tenderness to touch and chewing.
- Discoloration of the tooth.
- Swelling, drainage, tenderness near bone and gum tissues.
- A persistent or a recurring pimple on the gums.
The Root Canal Treatment has the following steps:
- The endodontist examines and x-rays the tooth and administers local anesthetic.
- Once the tooth is numb, a small protective sheet called a dental dam is placed over the area to isolate the tooth and keep it clean and free of saliva.
- An opening is made in the crown of the tooth.
- The inflamed or the infected pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected.
- It is then filled and sealed with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha.
- The tooth is restored with a crown or filling for protection. This crown is made of gold or porcelain.
- Now the tooth is ready to function just like it is supposed to.
Most treatment gets over in a day. However, at times more than one visit is required. In such circumstances, a temporary filling is placed in the crown opening to protect the tooth between dental visits. In such cases, it is wise to minimize chewing on the tooth under repair. This helps avoid recontaminating the tooth’s interior and also may prevent a fragile tooth from breaking before the tooth can be fully restored.
With modern techniques and anesthetics, most patients today feel comfortable during their procedure. Some might feel a little discomfort during the initial few days after the treatment, this can be because of the pain or infection present before the surgery. This discomfort can be relieved with Over the Counter medications or you can speak to your dentist to prescribe you some medications. However, this discomfort should not last for a long time and if it is present for a prolonged period of time then you should consult your dentist without delay.
Hear from Dr. Mohamed Ali about the technique, procedures and his experience with the root canal treatment
Some steps a patient can take to maintain the teeth in good shape after root canal treatment are:
- Regular visits to a dentist for dental exams. This is very important to understand the success of root canal treatment. The dentist would normally compare post-treatment x-rays with the pre-treatment x-rays. This helps him understand whether bone continues to be lost or is being regenerated. The dentist would also do a thorough check of your teeth to see whether there is any threat to your oral care.
- Good personal hygiene should be maintained such as brushing twice a day, flossing, using an antiseptic mouthwash at least once a day, using toothpaste which contains fluoride, regularly changing your toothbrush, following a healthy diet, giving up smoking, etc.
- Some reasons for trauma such as sport-related injury should be reduced by wearing a mouth guard.
If proper care is taken, the tooth which has root canal treatment done will last a lifetime, otherwise, it can again lead to tooth decay.
The alternative of root canal treatment such as tooth extraction and replacement with bridge or implants is an expensive affair. Also, these treatments take more time and additional procedures to adjacent teeth and supporting tissues. Whereas root canal treatment takes less time, less money and in contrast to the old age belief, it is less painful too. Root canal treatment helps maintain your natural smile, let’s you eat the food you love, and limits the need for constant dental work.
At Dr. Mohamed Ali’s practice, the patient will get the best care from the tremendously talented and caring staff. The latest dental technology is used to ensure that patients achieve excellent results with less pain, more comfort, and less time in the dentist’s chair. To schedule your free consultation, call us at 415.391.7751.