Root canal or endodontics is a dental procedure that involves removing the inner and soft part of the tooth or pulp (connective tissue, nerves, and blood vessels).
Endodontics is performed when the dental pulp is damaged, inflamed, or infected. Even if the pulp of the tooth is lost or dead, the upper part of the tooth or the crown can still remain intact. In most cases, the emergency dentist or endodontist will perform the root canal therapy under local anesthesia. Removing damaged or infected tooth pulp is the best way to maintain tooth structure.
Causes of Pulp Damage
The main causes of pulp damage include the following:
– Deep caries and cavities
– Performing several dental treatments on one tooth
– Cracks in teeth
– Injury and trauma to the teeth
The most common symptoms of a damaged dental pulp include:
– Moderate to severe pain in the teeth
– Swelling in the gums
The dentist will examine the affected tooth with X-rays. If the patient needs endodontics or root canals, the dentist will probably explain the root canal process and begin the procedure.
How Is Root Canal Performed?
Usually, the root canal process is performed in a dental office. This process includes several basic steps, including:
– Getting anesthesia
Many patients are afraid of a root canal as they think it is a painful process. However, the dentist uses a local anesthetic to numb the desired area so that the patient will not suffer from any pain.
– Removing the damaged or affected dental pulp
After numbing the desired area, the endodontist or dentist will make a small incision on the tooth. When the infected or damaged pulp is exposed, the specialist carefully removes it using special tools called dental files. Then the dentist will clean the dental canal carefully.
– Prescribing antibiotics
After removing the dental pulp, the dentist may cover the opened area with a topical antibiotic to suppress the infection and prevent it from getting worse or recurring. After cleaning and disinfecting the canals, the dentist fills the tooth with a sealer paste and a rubber-like substance called gutta-percha. Your dentist may also prescribe oral antibiotics to manage and ensure that the infection is suppressed.
– Placing temporary filling on the tooth
The dentist temporarily seals the small gap on the top of the tooth that has been created at the very beginning of the root canal process. S/he seal holes and seams to protect the canal from saliva damage.
How Long Does a Tooth Last after Endodontics or Root Canal Therapy?
During root canal treatment, the dentist only removes the living tissue inside the tooth roots. Therefore, the root-canalled tooth will usually last for another 10 to 15 years. If the dentist places a crown on the root canalled tooth after endodontic therapy, it will add extra strength and durability. Practicing good oral hygiene and proper oral care can also extend the life of the tooth.