Root Canal Treatment: What You Need To Know

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A root canal is an anatomic space that exists naturally within the root of a tooth. Root canal treatment is a procedure used to restore and save a tooth that has become extremely decayed or diseased. Let’s learn more about root canal treatment.

root canal treatment

What is root canal treatment?

A root canal is the hollow area of a tooth that includes the pulp, which contains nerve tissue, blood vessels, and other cells.

Root canal therapy is a dental operation used to alleviate discomfort caused by an infected or abscessed tooth. The inflammatory pulp is removed during the root canal procedure. After cleaning and disinfecting the internal surfaces of the tooth, a filling is put to close the area.

When is a root canal needed?

A root canal treatment might save an infected or damaged tooth. The tooth might have gotten infected or injured due to decay, repetitive dental procedures, wear and tear, gum disease, broken fillings, or a dental accident.

Bacteria can proliferate within the tooth if the dental pulp is injured. This can result in an infection or abscess, which is a pus-filled pocket that forms at the tip of the tooth’s root.

These are some symptoms that you should consider to have a root canal treatment:

Persistent tooth pain

One of the indicators that you may require a root canal is persistent tooth discomfort. The pain in your tooth may bother you all the time, or it may go away for a while but then return.
If you experience severe tooth pain, you should see your dentist. Early detection and treatment of tooth pain usually result in a better prognosis.

Tooth sensitivity

If your tooth suffers when you drink hot coffee or consume ice cream, you may require root canal therapy. This is particularly true if the discomfort lasts longer than a few seconds.
Sensitivity might cause a subtle aching or acute pain. If the discomfort persists for a long period of time, even after you stop eating or drinking, you may require a root canal. If your tooth hurts when you eat or drink something hot or cold, it might mean that your tooth’s blood vessels and nerves are infected or damaged.

Swollen gums

Swollen gums surrounding a sore tooth may indicate a problem that necessitates a root canal. The swelling may appear and go. When you touch it, it may be sensitive or it may not be unpleasant.

You can possibly have a pimple on your gum. This is referred to as a gum boil, parulis, or abscess. The infection in the tooth may cause the pimple to flow pus. This might cause a nasty taste in your mouth and make your breath smell awful.

A broken or chipped tooth

Bacteria can enter a chipped or broken tooth, leading to pain and infection. Even if you hurt a tooth but it does not chip or shatter, the injury may still cause nerve damage. The nerve can become irritated, resulting in discomfort and sensitivity that may necessitate root canal therapy.

Teeth discoloration

Discolored teeth might be caused by an infection in the pulp of your tooth. Trauma to the tooth or collapse of the internal tissue can harm the root and cause the tooth to appear grayish-black.

How root canal treatment is done?

A root canal can be performed by a dentist or endodontist who specializes in the causes, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of illnesses and damage to the tooth’s pulp or nerve.  The method will go as follows:


Before beginning root canal therapy, your dentist may take X-rays of the problematic tooth. This allows them to get a good image of the root canal and determine the degree of any damage. Local anesthesia, a painkilling drug that numbs your affected tooth and the gum around it, is commonly used during root canal therapy. In rare circumstances, a local anesthetic may not be required when the tooth has died and is no longer sensitive.

Removing the pulp

During treatment, your dentist will place a rubber dam around the tooth to keep it dry and free of saliva. The dam also prevents you from ingesting or inhaling any chemicals used by the dentist. To access the soft tissue in the center of the tooth, your dentist will use a drill to open your tooth through the crown, the flat section at the top. They will next remove any remaining contaminated pulp. Your dentist will be able to drain a dental abscess, which is a pus-filled swelling, at the same time.

Seal and fill the tooth

If you have an infection, the dentist may place medicine into the tooth to treat it. Others may decide to seal the tooth on the same day that it is cleaned, otherwise, a temporary filling is put in the tooth’s external hole to keep saliva and food out between sessions.

In the next session, a sealer paste and a rubber compound known as gutta-percha are inserted into the root canal to fill the inside of the tooth. To seal the access hole established at the start of therapy, a filler will be placed.

Add a crown

A crown is a cap that fully surrounds a natural tooth. To protect the tooth from shattering following root canal therapy, a crown may be required. The dentist will use a drill to lower the size of your tooth and then replace it with a crown. A mold of your teeth will be obtained to verify that the crown is the correct form and size for your tooth. Cement will be used to bond the crown to the trimmed-down tooth during the fitting process. If just a tiny portion of the tooth remains following root canal therapy, a post can be cemented in the root canal and utilized to assist maintain the crown in place.

root canal treatment

How long does root canal treatment take?

Root canal therapy may need one or two sessions depending on the extent of illness in your tooth. A root canal typically takes 30 to 60 minutes. However, it can take up to an hour and a half for treatment on a big tooth with many roots.

What to do after root canal treatment?

Following your root canal treatment, your repaired tooth with the new crown should function normally and be cosmetically attractive. Your repaired tooth might last a lifetime if you practice appropriate dental and oral care. The tooth may be sensitive for a few days following your root canal. Nonprescription pain relievers can be beneficial. If the discomfort or pressure persists for longer than a few days, consult your dentist or endodontist.

How painful is root canal treatment?

One of the most common concerns about this type of therapy is that it would be unpleasant, however, treatment performed by a qualified dental surgeon should be rather painless.

The pain is caused by the infection. The therapy does not induce pain; rather, it helps to relieve it. The dental surgeon will make the treatment less painful by numbing the tooth and surrounding region using a local anesthetic.

Side effects

Root canals have the following side effects:

  • Pain: Root canal therapy includes disinfecting the root canal and removing all of the pulp from the canal chambers. The pulp, which is packed with nerve endings, is located in the canals near the middle of the tooth. As a result, one of the adverse effects of root canal therapy may be discomfort for a few days.
  • Swelling: Any long-standing infection associated with a dead tooth may flare up when mechanical cleaning or the chemicals used during root canal treatment aggravate it. This can cause a response in the body, resulting in swelling for a brief period of time.
  • Tooth fracture: The sole long-term negative effect of root canal treatment is increased brittleness of the treated tooth. The root canal operation also necessitates extensive removal of tooth structure. This implies that by the time the root canal treatment is finished, the treated tooth is significantly more prone to fracture than it was before.
  • Tooth color change: The color of a root canal-treated tooth might darken over time. The color change is normally not a concern because an artificial cap covers the tooth. Nevertheless, in certain circumstances, it can be an issue when the necessity for a cap is not realized.

root canal treatment

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