What is root canal treatment?
Root canal treatment is recommended when you have an infection within the tooth. Inside the crown and root of your tooth is pulp, which nourishes the tooth and provides moisture to the surrounding material. Nerves within the pulp sense hot and cold temperatures along with pain. When the pulp is infected with bacteria due to an injury or severe cavity, the infection can cause serious pain, and if left untreated the tooth might have to be extracted. Root canal treatment involves cleaning out the bacteria and infected tissue inside the tooth, filling the area with medicated materials to prevent further infection, and capping the tooth with a crown.
How do you know if you need root canal treatment?
Tooth pain can have several different causes, but if you have severe pain while chewing and biting combined with lingering sensitivity to hot or cold, you might have an infection within the tooth. Other symptoms of a tooth infection requiring root canal treatment include:
- Chipped or cracked tooth
- Pimples on the gums
- Swollen or tender gums
- Signs of deep decay or darkening gums
What is the procedure for root canal treatment?
The first step in root canal treatment is cleaning out the root canal within the tooth. After administering local anesthesia, the dentist will drill a small access hole on the surface of the tooth and remove the infected and dead pulp with small files.
Next, the dentist will hollow out and decontaminate the emptied root canal using files, irrigation and an antimicrobial solution to kill any remaining bacteria. The dentist will then fill the area with a rubber-like material and seal it in with adhesive cement. With no nerves left, the tooth will now be effectively dead, and you won’t feel any pain or temperature sensitivity going forward.
Lastly, the dentist will use a crown to cover and protect the dead tooth, which will be much more fragile than before and become more brittle over time due to a lack of nutrients from the pulp. You might need to return for another appointment to get the color-matched crown, so it’s important to avoid biting or chewing with the dead tooth until then.