Root canal therapy is a dental procedure that entails treating the inside of a tooth by removing the infected pulp and preventing it from further infections in the future. It is also referred to as endodontic treatment. A pulp is essentially a soft tissue found inside the tooth beneath the white enamel and the hard tissue known as dentin. Pulp comprises of connective tissue, blood vessels, and nerve endings. The pulp’s main purpose is to nourish the tooth. However, a fully developed tooth can survive without it because it will be nourished by the surrounding tissues. Space in the interior of a tooth is referred to a root canal system, hence the name of the treatment. Therefore, this treatment is necessary for removing infected or inflamed pulp. The inflammation can be as a result of faulty crowns, deep decay, a chipped or cracked tooth or repeated dental procedures on the tooth.
How is the procedure performed?
When germs or bacteria penetrate the tooth through cracks or faulty fillings, your tooth ends up becoming abscessed. This is the medical term for a tooth with pus due to an infected pulp. An abscessed tooth tends to swell or become painful. The pain is caused by the pressure that the pus exerts on the tooth. A skilled dentist can identify the infection through performing a dental x-ray or observing other identifiable changes with the tooth. Once the dentist recommends you to have root canal treatment, they can either perform the procedure or refer you to an endodontist.
The procedure involves removing the infected, dead or inflamed pulp and then carefully cleaning and disinfecting inside the tooth. To remove the pulp, the dentist first drills into root canal using needle-like instruments called files. They start with a smaller file known as a pathfinder and then use a larger one to increase the size of the canal. The importance of this process is to remove debris and infected pulp and allow penetration of an irrigating solution. After extracting as much pulp as possible, the dentist then disinfects the tooth by temporarily filling the root canal with calcium hydroxide paste. The base is left in the canal for about a week or so to minimize the inflammation and disinfect the surrounding area. A person can also be advised to take ibuprofen before and after the procedure to reduce inflammation.
Dentists use various irrigants while performing the procedure. The primary functions of irrigants are to flush out debris, disinfect the root canal and dissolve tissue. It also eliminated, anaerobic microorganisms found in biofilms. The most common irrigants are sodium hypochlorite, framycetin sulfate, a combination of doxycycline, polysorbate 80 and citric acid among others.
The dentist then fills and seals the tooth with a rubber-like substance known as gutta-percha. Other substances that are used include epoxy resin and eugenol-based cement. Later, a crown or filling is used to restore the tooth and protect it. After the restoration is done, the tooth can function properly like any other tooth.
This procedure is not as complex as many people presume it to be. It can be finished in one or two appointments depending on the severity of the problem or your personal commitments. You can look forward to an uneventful and painless experience during and after the treatment. The experience will be painless because the dentist will use a local anesthetic to mitigate the pain. However, in some instances, it can be hard to administer anesthesia because of the pus in the surrounding area that has to be removed before carrying out the procedure.
How to prepare/recover?
You can prepare by ensuring that the tooth is pus free before the procedure. After the procedure, you have to brush and floss the tooth regularly. You should also visit the dentist for checkups to assess whether the tooth has healed properly or whether it is decaying because you might not notice any problem easily in the absence nerve endings.
A root canal therapy has many benefits one of them being that it saves a tooth rather than having it removed. This prevents the other healthy teeth from wearing out or getting misaligned which can lead to severe jaw problems. It also avoids the need to replace it with an artificial tooth and the discomforts that come with it. Additionally, a person can chew efficiently. They will also have a more natural appearance; have normal sensation and biting force. It will also protect other teeth from strain and wear. When given proper care, the tooth can last for a long time and even for a lifetime like any other tooth.
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