This is a type of treatment to save and repair a tooth that has been badly infected or decayed instead of removing the tooth. If not treated, the tissue surrounding the tooth will become infected and abscesses may form or worsen. The root canal is actually the natural cavity within the centre of the tooth were the nerve/pulp is situated.
Several factors can lead to infection or inflammation of the pulp. These include;
The aim of the treatment is to remove all the infection present inside the root canal. A root canal treatment is a skilled and time-consuming procedure. The procedure will usually involve two or more visits to your dentist depending on the infection present in your tooth. At the first appointment, the infected pulp is removed. In between appointments a dressing and temporary filling are placed in the tooth. The tooth is checked at a later visit and when all the infection has cleared and the root canal is shaped and cleaned well, the tooth is permanently filled or a crown is placed.
Sometimes some or none of the following symptoms are present; still, signs you may need a root canal include:
A local anaesthetic is used and it should feel no different to having an ordinary filling done. After the first visit no more anaesthesia is required as the pulp would have been previously removed. For the first few days following the completion of a root canal treatment, the tooth may feel slightly sensitive due to natural tissue inflammation, especially if there was pain or infection before the procedure was carried out. After a few days this slight sensitivity will then resolve completely.
In the past, a root filled tooth would often darken after treatment. However, with modern techniques this does not usually happen. If there is any discolouration, there are several treatments available to restore the natural appearance.
Root-treated teeth should be treated just the same as any other tooth. See your dentist for regular check-ups. Since some of the reasons why the nerve of a tooth and its pulp become inflamed/infected are due to deep decay, repeated dental procedures on early carious lesions, following good oral hygiene practices (brushing twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste, flossing at least once a day, and scheduling regular visits at the dentist) may reduce the need for a root canal treatment. Cut down on sugary snacks, and keep them only to mealtimes, if possible. Trauma resulting from sports-related injuries can be reduced by wearing a mouth guard.