Root Canal Treatment Explained

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Root canal treatment is a common dental procedure that dentists do not often explain well. There is considerable opinion that many dentists perform this treatment when it is not absolutely necessary.

What is a root canal treatment?

A root canal is a funnel-shaped canal filled with soft tissue that runs from the surface of a tooth down through the tooth itself and to the root. Both root stems have a root canal. The canal is where the main nervous tissue of the tooth is located.

Why does it need treatment?

Root canal treatment
is normally performed when a tooth has some degree of decay or infection. The procedure is designed to prevent further cavities or the spread of infection that can lead to total tooth loss. The soft tissue is completely removed from the canals and replaced with artificial cement.

What happens with a root canal treatment?

Because the soft tissue of the duct contains the nerve tissue, the procedure requires the administration of an anesthetic. Usually this is a local anesthetic that numbs the tooth and surrounding areas. Once the anesthetic takes effect, the dentist drills through the tooth and removes the infected or decaying tissue. Where the canal narrows at the stem of the actual root, the dentist will use a handheld device to remove all the soft tissue.

The space left by the extracted tissue is filled with rubbery cement. To make sure there are no air bubbles in the canal, the dentist will take an X-ray of the treated tooth. If an air pocket is found, the dentist must remove the cement and fill the canal. This part of the procedure may need to be repeated several times.

When the dentist is satisfied that there are no air bubbles, the hole is permanently sealed and the remaining cavity on top of the tooth is filled.

Is the treatment painful?

Root canal treatment gets a bad reputation for being an unpleasant treatment for some reason. The procedure is only performed under anesthesia and is no different than having a filling in the vast majority of cases. In some circumstances the patient may feel some sensation as the treatment involves the removal of the nerve endings and some patients will experience moderate pain for a day or two after the procedure.

Due to the nature of the treatment, performing a root canal can sometimes be quite a lengthy procedure, leaving the patient in the chair longer than usual, and this can increase discomfort, especially for patients who are more nervous.

Is there an alternative to treatment?

The vast majority of dentists would say there really is no alternative. In cases where infection is the problem, some dentists believe that antibiotics are preferable to treat the infection. The argument against this approach is that if antibiotic treatment doesn’t work, it may be too late to save the tooth with a root canal. The main reason for performing the procedure is that prior to a new method of antibiotic administration that could lead to a different approach, there was no way to directly attack the infected area.

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