What is Root Canal and its Causes, Procedures and Treatment
Dr. Meghna Arya
January 08, 2021
When it comes to dental treatments, the root canal is one that strikes fear into the hearts of many. This is mainly due to the fact that it is known to be an extremely painful and uncomfortable procedure. However, this isn’t true at all, and when the root canal of a tooth gets infected, this treatment is the only option to save the tooth. Moreover, a good root canal dentist will also ensure to make this procedure completely painless.
However, to truly rid yourself of any doubts or uncertainties you may have about root canal treatment (RCT), it pays to know all you can about it. With a better understanding of the reason for getting an RCT, the procedure involved, and how to get through recovery, you are better prepared for root canal of teeth.
Remember, leaving a root canal infection untreated can be very painful and can cause a great deal of problems over time. The infection can further spread to other parts of the body and in some cases, even become life-threatening. To ensure you’re prepared for an RCT procedure, should you ever need one, here’s all you need to know.
What is a root canal infection?
Firstly, it is important to note that the root canal isn’t a treatment, but a part of the tooth. This is the hollow section that contains the pulp. It is made up of blood vessels, nerve tissue, and other cells. This pulp is responsible for nourishing the tooth and the nerves in the pulp are responsible for detecting temperatures. A root canal infection occurs when this pulp inside the tooth gets infected or diseased. Since it cannot repair itself, the tissue inside dies and it must be removed so that the infection doesn’t spread.
This is when root canal treatment or endodontic therapy comes into play. Here, a root canal dentist removes the irritated pulp and nerve to save the tooth. The dentist also cleans the inside and seals it to avoid any further damage or penetration of bacteria that may harm the tissue.
What are the signs that you need a root canal treatment?
There are many signs that you may need a root canal and the most obvious one is prolonged pain. If you feel pain when biting or chewing, it is likely that you have a root canal infection that requires immediate treatment. Do not hesitate to get your tooth treated as delays will only increase health complications.
Here are other signs that suggest you need an RCT procedure or should visit a dentist immediately.
- Pimples on gums
- Cracked teeth
- Darkened gums
- Sensitive teeth
- Swollen gums
What is the procedure for root canal treatment?
Once the root canal dentist recommends an RCT to save the tooth, here’s the procedure you can expect to undergo.
- The dentist will apply numbing medication to the gum near the affected tooth
- Once the area is numb, the dentist will administer an anaesthetic into your gums via injection
- You will feel no pain and the dentist will start by making openings in the tooth
- With the pulp exposed, the specialist will then remove the infected pulp with files
- The dentist will then begin to start cleaning the canal
- Once the canal is cleaned, the area is coated with antibiotics to prevent infection
- The dentist then seals the tooth with root canal filling material known as gutta-percha
- After sealing it, a temporary filling will be put to prevent damage via saliva
This is when the major portion of the procedure takes place. Once the first session is over, you will be asked to see your doctor again after a few days. This is the recovery stage and is usually when you can expect to experience pain. However, over the course of a few days, this pain will fade. During the second part of the procedure, the root canal dentist will perform an X-ray of the area and confirm that the infection is dealt with. Once confirmed, the temporary filling is removed and a permanent filling is placed over the area. At this stage, you may also opt for a crown.
Is a root canal treatment painful?
As mentioned earlier, you experience no pain during an RCT mainly due to the fact that you’re under local anaesthesia. Any pain felt is only before, due to the infection as an RCT is a pain-relieving procedure. However, you will experience tenderness and pain after the effect of the anaesthesia fade. You may not be able to chew on that side of mouth for a while, but this pain can be controlled with over-the-counter medication.
How much does treatment for an infection of the root canal cost?
The cost to treat a root canal infection depends on the city and medical institution it is availed at. However, in India, this cost can range anywhere between Rs.1,500 and Rs.12,000. This cost is also dependent on the severity of the infection and the position of the tooth.
How can you prevent root canal infection?
Root canal prevention should be prioritised over all else. Here are a few tips you should keep in mind and practice.
- Brush your teeth regularly, especially before bed
- Get your teeth checked regularly
- Follow a healthy diet and avoid overly sugary foods and beverages
- Floss regularly to control plaque build–up
- Use a toothpaste with fluoride content
Understanding why you need an RCT and what the procedure is for it helps clear doubts and possibly eradicate the fear of it. Remember, a good root canal dentist will always prioritise your comfort and, when done right, there is almost no pain involved during the procedure whatsoever. This is why it is important to pick the right doctor, even if you’re going in to get the root canal filling replaced. Thankfully, with the Bajaj Finserv Health app, you can do just that right from your smartphone.
The app is loaded with telemedicine provisions and features that make healthcare easily accessible. With it, you can find the best doctors in your locality, thanks to the smart search feature, and even book appointments online. What’s more, you can consult these specialists over video if physical visits aren’t possible. Other convenient features of this app include the health vault, which allows you store patient records digitally and send them to specialists as requested. This ensures optimal remote care.