A root canal is performed in order to save or repair an infected tooth. This is done by removing the tooth, its pulp and the nerves and then disinfecting the root and then sealing it. The function of the nerve of the tooth is not vital to the tooth health. It only helps with the sensation of hot or cold while eating.
Why is Root Canal done?
1. The tooth nerve can be damaged easily due to deep tooth decay, trauma to the face, cracked or chipped a tooth, due to the usage of large fillings and also, repeated dental procedures on the tooth.
2. Bacteria begin to multiply when the nerve or the pulp of the tooth is damaged. This causes an infected or an abscessed tooth which is filled with pus. When this pus fills the tooth all the way to the root then it causes an abscess. Along with an abscess, the multiplying bacteria may also cause the following.
3. Swelling and pain, which can easily spread to other areas of the mouth, face or head.
4. It can cause bone loss at the root.
5. It can cause complicated drainage problems. A hole can form at the base of the tooth and cause drainage in the mouth through the gums or it can cause drainage into the skin through the cheeks.
What happens during a Root Canal?
Before the main procedure, the dentist will discuss what is going to happen in detail and make you feel at ease. Depending upon the extent of the problem in the tooth a dentist or an endodontist is chosen for the root canal procedure. An endodontist is a dentist that specialises in the tooth pulp and nerve and their health.
1. X-ray is the first thing that is done by the dentist when he suspects that you might need a root canal. This is done so that the right spot of the tooth decay can be found.
2. Local anaesthesia is given to numb the area around the tooth that is to be removed. Anaesthesia is not necessary because the nerve of the tooth that is to be removed is already dead. Yet, it is done to make the patient feel at ease.
3. To keep the area around the tooth that is to be removed free of saliva, the dentist or endodontist will put a rubber dam which is a sheet of rubber around it.
4. The next step is removing the tooth by making an opening or an access hole which is drilled into the tooth. After this, the tooth pulp, nerve, debris or pus and another decayed material are removed. Files of varying diameter are used to scrape around and remove the debris through the access hole. This is known as pulpectomy.
5. The roots of the tooth pulp that has been removed are then filled with gutta-percha material and the last step is the sealing of the root, which is done by cement.
How to take care after the Root Canal?
Following the procedure, for the first few days, the tooth may feel sensitive due to inflammation which is not a big issue and can be controlled by using painkillers. Generally, the next day the patient can return back to normal day to day activities. Doing the following will ensure good dental health after getting a root canal.
1. Oral hygiene- Brushing teeth every day followed by flossing and using a mouthwash every now and then are very important in making sure there will not be any more future problems.
2. Regular dental visit- Seeing the dentist or endodontist regularly is compulsory as they will do check-ups and solve problems such as tooth decay at its prime so that it does not become severe.
3. Food habits- Choose foods that do not contain a lot of carbohydrates or sugars as these are the root causes of tooth decay. Also, avoid eating hard foods after you get a root canal done.