Root Canal Treatment: Everything You Need To Know
It’s normal if you’ve had an instant nervous or anxious feeling when you found out you needed a root canal. No worries. We are here to walk you through the root canal procedure step by step and relieve your anxiety. As well, we are going to help you better understand why it can be an effective way to eliminate your toothache, remove your tooth infection, and save your tooth.
However, modern technology, training, and research has made a huge difference in making the procedure efficient and pain-free.
What is a root canal?
The top part of your tooth that you see in your mouth is the ‘crown’ and what holds the tooth in your bone are the ‘roots’. Inside the tooth, we have dental pulp which contains nerves. The pulpal tissue inside the roots is called the root canal. If harmful bacteria get into the pulp, they cause infection and damage the pulp. Damage to tooth pulp can be caused by,
- Dental decay: Our mouth is the home of millions of tiny bacteria. When there are decayed teeth in the mouth these bacteria can travel through the decayed tooth easily up to the pulp tissue and infect it.
- Cracks: Our teeth act like wedges to each other. After thousands of cycles of biting and chewing, the flexing that they cause starts to develop fractures in the teeth. These cracks can progress through the tooth and fracture the tooth right down the middle. If this happens sometimes the tooth needs to be extracted if a root canal doesn’t help.
- Trauma: teeth can get fractured due to a sudden fall or by accident. If the fracture is deep there’s a possibility of pulp involvement.
What is a Root Canal Treatment also known as Root Canal Therapy (RCT)?
A root canal treatment is a common restorative dental procedure that helps save your tooth that would otherwise be extracted due to damage to the pulp tissue contained within the tooth. The intent behind a root canal treatment is to keep your tooth in your mouth to preserve natural function and esthetics. A root canal treatment is commonly known as just “root canal” or “root canal therapy”.
Root canal treatment is necessary when the pulp inside the root canal, becomes inflamed or infected. During a root canal procedure, the nerve and pulp are removed, and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed.
What are the stages of Root Canal Therapy?
Let’s dive into more details about how a root canal procedure is carried out.
- First, your root canal or endo specialist will do a thorough examination of your mouth identify the causes of the damage and will carry out the treatment planning according to the condition of your mouth. After a thorough examination of your mouth.
- The root canal or endo specialist will numb the affected tooth site by giving a local anaesthetic injection before the procedure so you won’t feel any pain or discomfort during the procedure.
- Then he will place an appliance called a rubber dam around the infected tooth to isolate the treatment site from the rest of the mouth. Rubber dam ensures your safety by avoiding the sharp instruments accidentally falling into the throat and keeping the chemicals out of the soft tissues because the chemicals used during the root canal treatment are strong and can burn the soft tissues.
- Your dentist will then remove the decay and infection from the inside of your tooth using high-speed rotary instruments.
- Small files will be used to remove the nerves and infection inside the root canals of the tooth.
- The tooth will be cleaned and disinfected and then a rubber material called gutta-percha will be placed to fill the space inside the root canals and seal them.
- Eventually, a filling will be placed to seal the tooth.
- In certain situation only if needed, the dentist may prescribe pain and anti-inflammatory medications along with some antibiotics.
Thus, the root canal treatment will only take one to three appointments. Many dentists recommend placing a crown on root canal-treated teeth because there’s an increased risk of fracturing other filling materials. A crown can be made of metal or porcelain and essentially acts to strengthen your tooth.
When do I need a Root Canal Treatment?
If you have one or a few of the following signs and symptoms you may need to undergo root canal treatment.
- Increased sensitivity to hot or cold
If you have a mild sensitivity to hot or cold food that only lasts a few seconds this generally does not signal a serious problem. Minor sensitivity may be caused by a small decay, a loose filling, or mild gum recession exposing the underlying sensitive nerve endings. Mild sensitivity after a dental treatment due to a temporarily inflamed pulp tissue will subside within two to four weeks. If the pain persists or worsens you should seek an endodontic evaluation.
However, if you have lingering pain after consuming hot or cold food and beverages this probably means the pulp has been irreversibly damaged by deep decay or physical trauma.
- Spontaneous toothache
Spontaneous toothache without any obvious cause like hot or cold food signals irreversible damage to the pulp.
- Pain on biting
Sharp pain from biting is another signal that suggests not only possible irreversible damage to the pulp but also the infection has extended beyond the tooth into the surrounding tissues.
- Swelling in the mouth
An abscess is a pus-filled swelling in or around the root of the tooth which may or may not be painful. It occurs when the pulp dies, and the surrounding tissues become inflamed and go untreated. The most common symptom of an abscess is an ache in the bone around the tooth.
You may also experience pain from chewing and or swelling of the gums.
Sometimes a dull ache and pressure in the teeth, jaws, and muscles used for chewing can be caused by grinding of the teeth or bruxism. A thorough evaluation by your endodontist or dental specialist can differentiate between a root canal problem and bruxism.
Is Root Canal Treatment painful?
No, it’s not. Unfortunately, dentistry has a bad reputation that every dental treatment is painful. The specialist will give you an anaesthetic injection before the treatment to make sure that you won’t feel pain during the procedure. But still, you will feel that something is going on inside the mouth and the noise of the instruments can make you anxious for no reason. However, after the root canal treatment, you may start to feel some discomfort as the anaesthesia wears off. No worries. Pain and anti-inflammatory medication will make sure that you won’t develop any post-treatment pain and swelling.
What should I do after a root canal treatment?
It’s better if you can,
- Avoid chewing anything on the side of the treated tooth until the numbness has completely worn off because you won’t feel anything on that side. For example, if you eat or drink something hot your tissues will get burnt unknowingly because you can’t feel the warmth on the operative side.
- Avoid chewing on the treated tooth because trauma or stress on the tooth can cause a tooth fracture.
- Avoid chewing any sticky food, especially chewing gums from that side since it can break off the temporary filling or damage the crown.
- Avoid biting hard food and hard substances such as ice, fingernails, pencils etc. High biting and chewing forces applied right after the treatment can break the fillings
- Therefore, if possible, chew only on the opposite side of the mouth.
- The most common immediate post-root canal complication is pain and discomfort. To control the discomfort, you can take your pain medications as recommended.
- It’s normal to experience some discomfort for several days after a root canal appointment especially when you are chewing from the side where the root canal was done. The discomfort should subside within a few days or maximally within a week. Even if you are not experiencing any discomfort before your appointment, it’s normal to experience some pain after the root canal treatment is done. This tenderness is normal and is not a cause to be alarmed of.
- Maintain good dental hygiene by continuing to brush and floss carefully around the treated area. Most patients tend to avoid brushing on that area of the mouth where the root canal was done but remember “a clean mouth will heal faster and better.”
- Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol because smoking and alcohol can interfere with the healing process.
- As with any medical procedure attend follow-up appointments on time. If your bite feels uneven, or you have continuous or severe pain get an appointment to consult with your dentist before the proper review appointment. If you develop a huge swelling in the mouth in relation to the treated tooth meet your dentist immediately.
- Usually, the last step after a root canal treatment is the placement of a crown on the tooth. A crown covers and protects the tooth from breaking in the future. Therefore, it’s critical to have a crown placed on your root canal-treated tooth as soon as possible.
- Pay attention to your progress and
- Promptly address any concerns without any delay because root canal treatment itself can become a failure due to multiple reasons.
How long does a root canal-treated tooth last?
If you follow the recommended post-operative care, a root canal-treated tooth will last for a decade or even for a lifetime.
What can you eat after a root canal treatment?
Dental surgeons often advise patients to wait for about 48 hours after the treatment before chewing on the side where the root canal was done just to allow some time for the patient to get used to the newly treated root canal and the filling. It’s better to start eating soft food like pasta or rice and increase in terms of hardness such as crunchy peanuts to avoid intense pressure on the tooth.
Can you drink out of straw after a root canal treatment?
Of course, you can. Drinking out of straw should be avoided after a tooth extraction to protect the blood clot in place. However, it’s okay to drink out of straw after a root canal treatment.
Can you go to work after a root canal treatment?
Why not? It’s normal to feel a little discomfort after a root canal treatment, but it doesn’t necessarily interfere with your daily lifestyle unless you develop post-operative complications like painful swellings in the treated area. Therefore, you can attend to your daily work without any problem.
Are alternative procedures related to Root Canal Treatment?
Depending on the severity and the extent of your dental problem, the cost, and sometimes dental surgeons take your wishes to account to proceed with treatment.
- Extraction of the tooth:Removal of natural teeth is not advised unless it is extremely necessary. The teeth with a poor prognosis will be extracted even if they are indicated for root canal treatment for the time being. When a patient is uncomfortable undergoing a root canal, the dentist may remove the tooth instead of doing a root canal if the tooth is a back tooth which doesn’t cause many esthetic problems.
- Pulpotomy:When only part of the pulp is involved with an infection, it will be enough to remove the upper part without instead of a complete root canal. After excavation of the infected part of the pulp, a normal filling will be done to cover the cavity.
- Apexification:This is a type of root canal treatment involving repeated root canal dressing with Calcium Hydroxide indicated for immature teeth with incomplete roots. Definitive root canal treatment will be carried out once a calorific barrier is formed at the tip of the immature tooth.
- Root Removal (Apicoectomy):An apicoectomy is a minor surgical procedure in which the very tip of the tooth’s root is removed and sealed. An apicoectomy may be needed when an infection develops or persists after root canal treatment, or retreatment.
- Root Planning:It is a method of treating severe gum disease. When having gum disease, inflammation of the tissues will lead to separation of gum from the root surface, which creates a tiny space known as a periodontal pocket. Root planning smooths the surface of the root so the gums can reattach properly.
- Post & Core Crown:A type of dental restoration required where there is an inadequate amount of sound tooth tissue remaining to retain a conventional crown. A post is cemented into a prepared root canal, which retains a core restoration, which retains the final crown.
What is the cost of Root Canal Treatment in Kuala Lumpur?
The cost of root canal treatment may vary due to multiple reasons.
- The severity of the infection
- The extent of the infection
- The complexity of the treatment
- Location of the tooth
- Materials used
As well prices may vary from one clinic to another, and dentist qualifications, and treatment protocols specific to the dental office.
Usually, the price for Root Canal Treatment ranges from RM1,000 and above in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.