What is a root canal?  

A root canal is a dental procedure that involves the removal of the tooth’s pulp or soft center. Nerves, connective tissue, and blood arteries constitute the pulp.

Root canal treatment is usually performed under local anesthesia by a regular dentist or an endodontist.

When do you require root canal therapy

Root canals are required when the pulp, the soft inner part of the tooth, is injured, inflamed, or infected.

The crown (the region visible above the gums) may remain intact when the pulp dies.

Common causes of pulp damage are: 

  • Deep cavities due to untreated caries.
  • Multiple dental treatments for the same tooth.
  • Chipped or cracked teeth.
  • Injury to the teeth; Even if your teeth are not broken, the injury can cause pulp damage.

The most common symptoms of pulp injury include toothache, edema, and a feeling of warmth in the gums or rarely a discolored tooth. To confirm your diagnosis, your dentist will examine your hurting teeth and take x-rays. If they think you need root canal treatment, your dentist may refer you to an endodontic. 

How is root canal treatment done? 

Root canal treatment is done at the dental office. When you arrive for an appointment, a technician will guide you to the treatment room, help you sit in a chair, and hang a bib around your neck to protect your clothes from dirt. 

Step 1: Anesthesia 

The dentist applies a small anesthetic drug to the gums near the affected tooth. Then a local anesthetic is injected into the gums. A severe pinch or burning feeling may occur, but it will pass rapidly. Stay awake during surgery, but the anesthetic does not cause any pain. 

Step 2: Remove the pulp 

If the tooth is numb, an endodontic or general dentist will make a small opening at the top of the tooth. Once an infected or damaged pulp is exposed, specialists carefully remove the pulp using a unique tool called a file. They pay extra attention to cleaning all of your teeth’s pathways (canals).

Step 3: Antibiotics 

Once the pulp has been removed, the dentist can coat the area with a topical antibiotic to ensure that the infection is gone and prevent reinfection. Once the canal is cleaned and disinfected, the dentist fills and seals the teeth with a sealing paste and a rubber-like material called gutta percha. 

Step 4: Temporary filling 

The dentist finishes the treatment by using a soft temporary substance to fill a little space at the top of the tooth. This seal protects the duct from saliva damage.

Follow-up after your root canal treatment

Your teeth and gums may hurt when the numbing drug wears off. Gums may swell as well. To address these symptoms, most dentists prescribe over-the-counter pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) and ibuprofen (Advil). See your dentist if the discomfort is severe or persists for more than a few days. You should be able to resume your routine the next day after the surgery. Biting teeth should be avoided until the injured tooth has been adequately filled, or a crown has been set on it.

What happens after root canal treatment? 

Root canal treatment is considered a repair procedure. Most people who undergo this surgery can enjoy positive results for the rest of their lives. However, how long the effects last depend on how you care for your teeth. 

Repaired teeth require regular brushing and dental floss, as the remaining teeth rely on good oral hygiene habits.