Posted on: 8 March 2017Share
If you have a deep toothache or abscess, your dentist may tell you a root canal treatment is needed to relieve your pain and save your tooth. A root canal is a routine dental procedure that's necessary when the pulp of your tooth is infected due to tooth decay, a crack in a crown, or a tooth injury. Here is some more information you may want to know.
How Root Canal Treatment Saves Your Tooth
When the pulp of your tooth is infected, it is very painful because the pulp contains nerve endings that are constantly irritated. Since the pulp is sealed behind the enamel of your tooth, the only ways to treat the infection are to pull out the tooth pulp and all or to just remove the pulp. That's the purpose of a root canal. The dentist drills into your tooth and scrapes out all the infected material, disinfects the inside of the tooth, and then replaces the pulp with a rubber-like material. Even though the pulp is rich with blood vessels, the loss of the pulp won't affect the blood flow to your surrounding tissues since there are still plenty of nearby vessels to handle the job. With the infection removed and the root of your tooth clean and stabilized, the enamel of the tooth is ready for restoration.
Why A Root Canal Is Better Than Extraction
The only alternative to a root canal is to pull out the infected tooth, so your pain ends and the infection is out of your body. If the tooth is in the front, this will affect your appearance unless you immediately get a bridge or implant. A root canal is usually more affordable than choosing an extraction and cosmetic replacement. The worst case scenario is to pull the tooth and leave it out. This not only affects your appearance, but also it puts strain on the nearby teeth when you chew. The other teeth in your mouth will shift over time, and you may have bone loss where the tooth is missing. You can avoid these problems and the expense of an implant by getting a root canal treatment so the tooth can be saved.
A Root Canal Is Not As Painful As You May Think
The root canal treatment has a bad reputation for being a painful procedure, but that actually isn't true at all. You are given a local anesthetic for the treatment just like you receive when you get a filling or have a tooth pulled. This prevents pain during the root canal, and once the infected pulp and nerves are out, the toothache pain will be gone too. So, after the procedure, you'll be in less pain than you were before. If you have a pain or dental phobia, talk to the dentist about your situation. There are medications your dentist may suggest using, such as nitrous oxide gas or an anti-anxiety pill or IV that will help you be more relaxed.
The root canal treatment is a fairly quick process, but you may need multiple visits to complete the work of restoring your tooth. Once the root canal is done, your dentist will fill the cavity or crack if it is small. If the tooth has a large amount of decay, it may need to be covered with a crown instead. If you need a crown, the dentist puts on a temporary crown or filling that lasts for a few weeks while your permanent crown is made in a lab. Once your tooth is filled or fitted with a crown, it will be good as new and you can chew without pain.