When it comes to dental procedures, root canal therapy often gets a bad reputation. However, it is a safe and effective treatment that can help to alleviate pain and save a damaged tooth. In this article, we'll discuss everything you need to know about root canal therapy, including the procedure, aftercare, benefits, and risks.
What is Root Canal Therapy?
Root canal therapy, also known as endodontic treatment, is a procedure that is performed when the inner pulp of a tooth becomes inflamed or infected. The pulp is the soft tissue that is found inside the tooth, and it contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. When the pulp becomes damaged, it can lead to pain, swelling, and infection.
During root canal therapy, the damaged pulp is removed, and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed. The procedure is typically performed by an endodontist, who is a dentist that specializes in treating the inner pulp of teeth.
Why is Root Canal Therapy Needed?
Root canal therapy is needed when the inner pulp of a tooth becomes inflamed or infected.
This can occur due to a variety of reasons, including:
Repeated dental procedures on the same tooth
Cracked or chipped tooth
Trauma to the tooth
If left untreated, an infected tooth can lead to more serious health problems, including abscesses, bone loss, and even systemic infections.
Symptoms That Indicate You May Need Root Canal Therapy
If you are experiencing any of the following symptoms, you may need root canal therapy:
Severe tooth pain, especially when eating or applying pressure
Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures that lingers after the stimulus is removed
Swollen or tender gums
Discoloration of the tooth
Persistent bad breath or an unpleasant taste in the mouth
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible.
How is Root Canal Therapy Performed?
Root canal therapy is typically performed over the course of two or more appointments.
During the first appointment, the endodontist will numb the area around the tooth and create an opening in the top of the tooth to access the pulp.
The damaged pulp is then removed using specialized tools, and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and shaped.
At the end of the first appointment, a temporary filling is placed in the tooth to protect it until the next appointment.
During the second appointment, the endodontist will remove the temporary filling and replace it with a permanent filling or crown.
Aftercare Following Root Canal Therapy
After root canal therapy, it is important to take care of your tooth to prevent further damage or infection.
Avoid chewing on hard foods or using the treated tooth to bite down.
Is root canal therapy painful?
Contrary to popular belief, root canal therapy is not a painful procedure. The area around the tooth is numbed using a local anaesthetic, so you should not feel any pain during the procedure. After the procedure, you may experience some discomfort or sensitivity, but this can be managed using over-the-counter pain medications.
How long does root canal therapy take?
The length of a root canal procedure can vary depending on the complexity of the case. In general, the procedure can take between 1-2 hours. Patients should also allow time for the initial consultation and follow-up appointments.
Can I drive home after my root canal procedure?
Since root canal therapy is performed under local anaesthesia, patients are usually able to drive themselves home after the procedure. However, some may prefer to arrange for transportation home, especially if they experience any discomfort after the procedure.
What can I eat after my root canal procedure?
After a root canal procedure, patients should avoid eating hard, crunchy, or sticky foods. Instead, they should stick to soft foods such as soups, smoothies, and mashed potatoes for the first few days after the procedure. It is also important to avoid alcohol and smoking during the recovery period.
How long will my restored tooth last after root canal therapy?
The success of a root canal procedure depends on many factors, including the patient's oral hygiene habits and the condition of the restored tooth. With proper care and maintenance, a restored tooth can last a lifetime. Patients should continue to brush and floss regularly and visit their dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings.