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Root Canal

What is Root Canal ?
A tooth comprises of four layers - enamel, dentine, cementum a​nd the pulp. Enamel is the outermost layer and pulp is the core. Besides these parts, the root of a tooth reaches deep into the jaw bone for firmness and support. A channel comprising the pulp starts from the crown and ends at the tip of the root. The pulp is a storehouse of connecting tissues, blood vessels and nerves. It provides nourishment and sensation to the tooth. When this part of the tooth is infected, root canal treatment is administered in order to get rid of the infection.
Root canal treatment is also referred to as endodontic treatment or root canal therapy or simply RCT. When cavity formation is neglected, the infection spreads to the pulp and roots, thereby necessitating root canal treatment to save the tooth.

Root Canal

Tooth decay, when neglected, keeps on attacking the tooth until it reaches the pulp and develops bacterial infections in the core areas. Root canal treatment is suggested once the infection of the pulp is confirmed. There are various symptoms that hint on pulp infection. Since the nerves and blood vessels are affected, the tooth tends to become very sensitive towards extreme temperatures. Pain may occur while drinking hot and cold beverages.
Pain while eating is an early sign of infection. Also, pulp infection hampers the tooth firmness. So, loose tooth is also one of the symptoms that need to be addressed immediately.
After a certain period, the pain ceases because the infection moves from the pulp area in the crown of the tooth to the root canal. At this stage of infection, the pulp is completely dead. However, symptoms become more severe. Intolerable pain while chewing, swollen gums, swollen face, pus formation and discoloration of the affected tooth are some of the signs at this stage.
Once bacteria attack the root canal system, it is almost impossible to treat the infection with antibiotics since drugs cannot reach the affected area. Moreover, continual antibiotic treatment makes the bacteria resistant towards the drugs and treatment ceases to bring positive results. Damages caused to the pulp due to tooth decay, excessive wear and tear (attrition), numerous filling procedures or accidental tooth fractures are irreparable. In such cases, root canal treatment is the only solution to save the tooth.
A neglected pulp infection progresses to the bone that supports the tooth. This loosens the tooth and may lead to tooth loss. The main idea behind a root canal treatment is to restore the original tooth. This way it helps in maintaining the aesthetic as well as the functional aspect of your tooth for a long duration.

Root Canal

The whole root canal treatment comprises of measuring and cleaning processes. The dentist first numbs the area with local anesthesia. The small incision is made on the top or the back of the tooth in order to get access to the infected pulp. The infected pulp is removed. The dentist then makes a proper assessment of the length of the infected root canals. This helps in cleaning the canal effectively. X-rays and apex locator are used to estimate damage to the canal. The canals are cleaned with the help of antiseptic and oxidizing solutions. The tooth is then filled with temporary filling and followed up by a permanent filling or (and finally with) a crown, without which the tooth may break.
The root canal procedure might not be done within a single sitting. Depending on the severity of infection and number of affected canals, the dentist decides on the number of sittings. Root canal treatment on teeth positioned in difficult areas or those having chronic long standing infections require more sittings.
Once the decay reaches the pulp, dental procedures like root canal treatments are usually advised. However, this situation can be prevented by maintaining a healthy dental hygiene. Brushing your teeth twice daily and frequent flossing protect teeth from decay. Regular visit to the dentist helps you keep a check on your teeth and detect early signs of decay.

1) What is root canal?

Root canal is the treatment that is done to repair or save the tooth that has been severely damaged due to decay, cavity, injury or some kind of tooth infection. In such cases, the root of the affected tooth becomes inflamed or infected and requires immediate intervention else as the pain and infection increases, it can lead to complications that can be fatal for the health of your teeth and gums. With the help of a proper dental procedure, the root of the tooth is restored or repaired, depending on the extent of damage.


2) When do I need a root canal?

Look out for these signs:

  • Serious or unbearable pain in the tooth while chewing or eating or when you put pressure in the area
  • When you feel a sudden gush of pain while eating something too hot or cold. It is known as tooth sensitivity and if the problem is a persistent one and has gotten worse over a period of time, then root canal is advisable
  • Darkening of teeth/tooth or change of the colour from white to dark yellow or brown
  • Swelling or a bump appearing on the gums near the affected tooth area


3) What will happen at my appointment?

A comprehensive dental check-up is carried out to know the condition of the affected tooth. X-rays are done to assess how badly the tooth is affected. The next step is to apply local anaesthesia on the area to ease any discomfort or pain a patient can face during the process. Special tools are used to clean out the affected area and scoop out any infection or debris from the crown of the tooth. Next up, a special composite filling is put to protect the tooth from any external infection or decay. It can be a temporary or permanent filling and once the filling has dried up and the area is healed, a crown or a prosthetic tooth is finally placed.   


4) Will it hurt during the procedure?

The pain that you experience in the affected tooth is because of the infection that has seeped deep into the crown and root of the teeth. Root canal is the process that is performed to eliminate that pain. The process is performed with the help of a local anaesthesia, therefore, the area in the mouth where the procedure is to be carried out, becomes numb to any kind of sensation or pain. However, post the effect of the anaesthesia, some people might feel slight pain in the tooth but it can be subsided with use of pain killer recommended by the dentist.


5) Will it hurt afterwards?

You might get some pain in the area once the effects of the local anaesthesia has weaned away. Teeth sensitivity is also experience by some people who have undergone root canal process. But this is normal and there is nothing to worry about. To reduce pain and to prevent future instances of tooth pain post root canal, follow a proper oral hygiene care routine. Remember to brush using soft bristled tooth brushes and use toothpastes that have been specially formulated for sensitive teeth.


6) Benefits of root canal versus extraction

Root canal and tooth extraction are two procedures that dentists restore to in order to repair or treat tooth/teeth that have been damaged due to infection, decay, cavity or some kind of injury. However, which one to opt for is the decision best left to your dentist. Root canal is done to save teeth/tooth that might be viable to the mouth but has been damaged due to the disease or infection destroying the root of the teeth. Tooth extraction is done in extreme cases when the tooth is beyond repair and leaving it in its existing condition can result in spread of the infection as well as pain that can be both unbearable and fatal to the overall health and hygiene of your mouth.

Maintaining proper oral care and using the right toothpaste plays a vital role in keeping tooth problems such as plaque, cavities, tartar and tooth pain away. Visit our blog to know more about dental care and prevention of dental problems to keep teeth strong and healthy. Also try out home remedies for toothache to get quick pain relief.

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