A root canal is a treatment for inflamed, infected, or dead pulp in the tooth. The dental pulp is a soft substance that consists of the nerve, blood vessels, and connective tissue in the center of the tooth. The pulp chamber is the hollow part of the tooth in the center that contains the pulp, and it extends down canals that extend through the roots of teeth and into the surrounding bone. Some roots have multiple root canals, but all have at least one.
The more correct terms for a procedure that treats the nerve of the tooth are root canal treatment (RCT) and endodontic treatment. Endodontics is a dental specialty that focuses on the tooth pulp and tissues surrounding the tooth’s root. A general dentist or an endodontist can treat a root canal problem. An endodontist is a dentist who has completed several years of specialty training after graduating from dental school to focus solely on root canal treatments. Root canals can be performed by general dentists, but if the tooth is particularly complicated or is being treated for the second time, the patient may be referred to an endodontist.
The dental pulp is removed during root canal treatment, and all canals and pulp chambers of the tooth are filled and sealed to prevent bacteria from entering.
How do you know if you need root canal treatment?
If the pulp becomes injured or diseased, it is unable to heal and the tissue dies. Bacteria can enter the pulp if there is a deep cavity, a cracked tooth, or a loose filling.
Bacteria will eventually decompose the pulp. If bacteria enter through the root openings, they can cause a bone infection. An infection will weaken and break down the bone. The ligaments surrounding the tooth swell, and the tooth becomes loose.
A pulp injury causes the tooth to be sensitive to both high and low temperatures. Chewing may cause pain, and some people experience continuous, throbbing pain. The infection will spread if not treated. The tooth will eventually become loose and will need to be extracted.
Some patients choose extraction, especially if the pain is excruciating or the tooth cannot be restored, such as if there is extensive decay, trauma, or bone loss due to periodontal, or gum, disease.
However, removing a tooth may cause the teeth around it to shift and become crooked. This can be unsightly and make it difficult to get a good bite.
In most cases, root canal therapy will save the tooth and relieve the pain. If the tooth cannot be saved, an implant is the next best option. However, if possible, saving the natural tooth is preferable because nothing functions as well as a natural tooth.
What is the prevention with root canal treatment?
Dentists recommend the following measures to prevent infections, tooth decay, and gum disease:
Brushing teeth last thing at night and at least once more per day with fluoride toothpaste using a suitable toothbrush and replacing it regularly attending regular dental checkups and cleanings
Flossing to clean between the teeth and prevent plaque buildup, avoiding sugary drinks and foods, and eating a healthy diet are all important.
Dental sealants can also help to prevent tooth decay.
How much does it cost?
The cost of dental care varies greatly, but saving the tooth with a root canal is relatively inexpensive. The other option is extraction, which usually results in a higher cost for an implant or bridge to replace the tooth. Extraction can also result in a malocclusion, or misaligned teeth, as well as chewing difficulties.