Root canal refers to space inside the root of the tooth which is filled with a connective tissue called the dental pulp, nerves and blood vessels. Each tooth may have about one to five or even more root canals depending on the roots of the tooth.
What is root canal treatment? When is it necessary?
Root canal treatment refers to the removal of the dental pulp from the tooth followed by a filling. A root canal treatment becomes necessary in the event of:
An infection: An untreated cavity spawns off an infection which can further cause erosion of the enamel and dentin region of the tooth to reach the root canal, making the pulp of the teeth prone to bacterial infection. An inflammation around the affected tooth can be treated as a symptom of an infection, which decreases the supply of blood. Thus the reduction in blood supply prevents the healing of the damaged pulp. In case there is only an inflammation and no infection in the pulp region, there’s a possibility of it healing on its own. Therefore, before proceeding with the root canal treatment dentists’ usually wait to check if that can happen and only then confirm the necessity of a root canal.
Incorrigible damage to the pulp: Sometimes the pulp of the tooth can be damaged beyond repair in case of a tooth fracture, advanced stages of gum disease which has affected the tooth or a decay deep below the tooth filling. In case the necessity of a root canal treatment is diagnosed but left untreated extraction of the infected tooth is the last option for they can spread the infection to the neighboring teeth.
Explain the root canal treatment procedure.
Step 1: An x-ray will be needed to confirm the root canal shape and the possibility of an infection in the bone surrounding it.
Step 2: A local anesthesia is injected to numb the region around the affected tooth.
Step 3: To ensure you don’t salivate in the region where the root canal will be performed a rubber sheet will be placed.
Step 4: A hole is drilled into the tooth to remove the bacteria causing the infection and the subsequently damaged nerve tissue.
Step 5: Several root canal files of varying diameter are induced to clean the sides of the root canal and water is used to flush out the dirt.
Step 6: The cleaning process is followed by sealing. It can be performed immediately or after a gap of 5-7 days. In the absence of sealing at least a temporary filling will be done to prevent accumulation of food and saliva in the recess.
Step 7: The last step involves restoration of the tooth with a filling or placement of a dental crown although the later is more preferred as it strengthens the tooth and acts as a permanent seal.
A root canal treatment may fail on account of the following:
- Abnormal shape of the root canal
- Too many root canals
- Complex horizontal branching
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