A root canal procedure is where the central pulp of the tooth is removed either because it is rotten or inflamed. It is performed to eradicate bacteria from the affected tooth and prevent further infection to other teeth. A healthy tooth can survive without its pulp because it is continually being nourished by surrounding tissues. Root canal procedures have become extremely bearable and painless, and take hardly two appointments for completion. It is carried out under the effect of anaesthesia, though patients may experience a minor discomfort after the procedure is completed. The patient will experience very insignificant numbness for a few hours just after the procedure, however, after one or two days the patient can resume back to normal life.
Root canal procedure has various benefits above other dental treatments, chewing with no pain, natural impression of tooth, protecting other teeth from getting infected and many more. Also, root canal procedures cost less than tooth extraction procedures. When a person experiences painful chewing, swollen gums, chips and cracks in teeth, sensitivity to hot and cold edibles, tooth decay, etc. they are advised to receive a root canal procedure.
Patients often experience nervousness and anxiety about the procedure, so it becomes essential for the patient to understand the complete procedure as well as a few things about the tooth structure and condition. Underneath the enamel, and above the hard dentin, the pulp exists, it is a soft gelatinous tissue. The pulp contains nerves that are responsible for hot and cold sensation, connective tissue responsible for the growth of the root part of the tooth. During the procedure the pulp part is delicately removed. The tooth still survives because it receives nutrition from the surrounding tissues.
Let’s understand what exactly happens during the procedure.
The tooth is carefully examined for correctly treating the damage, an X-ray is also recommended sometimes. Local anaesthesia is given to numb the tooth and gums for the patient’s comfort. It makes the procedure painless and the patient experiences little to no pain. The anaesthesia does not make the patient unconscious or sleepy at all, they can remain awake during the procedure. The anaesthesia is administered through injections. Your dentist will not start the procedure until your tooth is completely numb.
2. Dental dam application
Your dentist and their assistant will apply an equipment called dental dam in your mouth. It is a piece of rubber used to separate the site of tooth operation from the whole set of teeth and mouth, a hole is created in the damp to make the tooth visible. It helps the dentist focus better on the treatment. It also helps in the procedure being hygienic by providing a sterile environment and reducing the risk of bacterial growth. Saliva is also kept off the operative with the help of dental dam.
A small opening is made on top area of the tooth, called crown. The opening helps the dentist reach the dead matter in the pulp chamber. It is made using a dental drill. There is no need to be afraid of the drill as the patient will already be administered with anaesthetic and the drill used will be specialized for dental procedures.
4. Decay removal
Through the opening, small dental equipment are used to remove the rotten and decaying pulp. This step also wouldn’t hurt as the anaesthesia will be still effectively working and the equipment will be specialized. The dentist will carefully and slowly remove the pulp until the pulp chamber is completely clean and empty.
5. Cleaning and disinfection
After the removal of the pulp matter, cleaning of the pulp chamber becomes essential. It reduces the risk of infection and other teeth being infected. It also helps in prevention of bacterial and microbial growth. The insides are thoroughly cleaned with an antibacterial solution and antiseptic.
The canals will be shaped to make space for the sealant. For this purpose, flexible root canal tools are used. They are inserted inside the canals to create space. After appropriate space is created for the sealant, one more thorough cleaning is performed to ensure no debris are left.
7. Gutta-percha filling
A rubber like material is suitable for filling the canals. Gutta-percha is the most popularly recommended one. Since it is a thermoplastic material, it has to be heated and then compressed for filling. An adhesive cement is applied along with it to help the gutta-percha stick to the canal. The adhesive also helps in covering the exposed filling surface. This way, no bacteria or microbes can form alliance over the filling. The adhesive is moreover effective in preventing further infection.
8. Filling and crown
After placing the sealant, a permanent or temporary filling is placed to completely cover the opening. The dental dam is removed at this point and the procedure is completed. Your dentist may prescribe antibiotics after completion of the procedure. You will also be given certain instructions to look after your teeth and care for them post-treatment. After a few days, you may be called for a permanent filling or crown placement for your tooth. Because the structure of the tooth is lost, the tooth requires external support. A dental crown is used for that purpose. Your dentist will recommend you the best option available upon examining the condition of your tooth.
9. Rest and recovery
The patient may experience pain and swelling of the gums for a few hours. You will also feel numbness from the anaesthesia. It is recommended that you avoid eating anything until the numbness and pain is completely gone. Ice packs are a great way to soothe irritation. For eating, consider foods which require little to no chewing. Soups, shakes, juices, etc. are recommended. If you follow any work out or exercise routines, pause them for at least two days after the treatment. The body requires rest after the procedure to heal faster. Lastly, take plenty of sleep. It will also help you distract from the pain if you are feeling any. If you notice the symptoms are not fading in a day or two but getting worse, immediately contact your dentist as such symptoms are a possibility of greater complications.