Root Canal Treatment

Root canal treatment (endodontics) is a dental procedure used to treat infection in the center of the tooth. Root canal treatment is not painful and can save a tooth that would normally need complete removal.

Why is root canal treatment necessary?

With root canal treatment, many problems that have occurred or may occur in the tooth can be prevented. Infection in the center of the tooth (root canal) is caused by bacteria that live in the mouth and invade the tooth. This can occur after the following situations:

  • tooth decay
  • leaky fillings
  • damage to teeth as a result of trauma, such as a fall

A tooth consists of 2 parts. The crown is the upper part of the tooth that is visible in the mouth. The root extends into the jawbone and fixes the tooth in place. Teeth also consist of:

enamel – hard outer coating
dentin – a softer material that supports enamel and makes up most of the tooth
cementum – a hard material covering the root surface
dental pulp – soft tissue in the center of the tooth

The root canal system contains the dental pulp and extends from the crown of the tooth to the tip of the root. A single tooth can have more than 1 root canal.

When is root canal treatment required?

This treatment is only necessary when the dental X-ray shows that the pulp has been damaged by a bacterial infection. If infected by bacteria, the pulp will begin to die, allowing bacteria to multiply and spread.

Symptoms of pulp infection include:

pain when eating or drinking hot or cold foods and beverages
pain when biting or chewing
loose tooth

As the infection progresses, these symptoms usually disappear as the pulp dies. Your tooth appears to have healed, but the infection has actually spread to the root canal system. Eventually you get other symptoms as well, such as:

pain when biting or chewing
swelling of the gum near the affected tooth
pus oozing from the affected tooth
percent swelling
darkening of the tooth

It is important to see your dentist if this occurs. If your tooth is infected, the pulp cannot heal on its own. Leaving the infected tooth in your mouth can make the situation worse. If the infection in your tooth is established, root canal treatment may have less of a chance to work. Antibiotics, a drug that treats bacterial infections, are not effective in treating root canal infections.

How is it applied?

To treat the infection in the root canal, the bacteria must be removed. This can be done with one of the following:

removal of bacteria from the root canal system
removal of the tooth

However, it is generally not recommended to remove the tooth as it is better to keep as many natural teeth as possible. After the bacteria are cleaned, the canal is filled and the tooth is closed with a filling or crown.

In most cases, the inflamed tissue near the tooth heals naturally. Before having root canal treatment, you will usually be given a local anesthetic. This means that the procedure should be painless and no more uncomfortable than having a filling. Root canal treatment is usually successful. In about 9 out of 10 cases, a tooth persists for up to 10 years after treatment without any problems.

Recovery after root canal treatment

It is important to take good care of your teeth after root canal treatment. You should avoid biting hard foods until your treatment is complete. After your last treatment, your restored tooth may feel tender for a few days, but should no longer be painful. You can take painkillers such as paracetamol or ibuprofen with the direction of your dentist to relieve any discomfort.

If you still have pain or swelling after using pain relievers, contact your dentist. In most cases, it is possible to avoid the need for further root canal treatment by:

keeping your teeth clean
not eating too much sugar
quit smoking if you smoke

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