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What is Root Canal? Treatment?

The tooth has several layers: the outer layer called enamel, the inner layer dentin, and just below dentin, we have the root canal chamber that holds nerves and blood vessels. If you have a deep cavity, trauma, or anything that causes inflammation in the nerve, you will need to clean the root canal by removing blood vessels and nerve tissue and seal off the canals.

Why do you need a Root Canal?

There are tons of reasons, but the number one is a large cavity in the tooth that reaches the nerve. Another reason is tooth fracture. The nerves get damaged inside the tooth, and you will need a root canal. Sometimes your tooth gets infected, and you get a fistula (a pimple-looking thing) on the side of the gum oozing pus; that is a good indication you need a root canal.

I’ve heard from patients: “The dentist told me that I need a root canal, but I don’t have pain.” No pain does not mean that you don’t need a root canal. What happens is when the infection gets into the nerve, sometimes it can kill the nerve very fast, and there would be no pain, but there is still a giant infection in your tooth that needs immediate attention.

How can I know if I need a Root Canal?

Your dentist will be the one who can tell you exactly whether you need one or not, but here are some red signs to look for:

  • Severe pain: The type of pain that doesn’t go away, gets worse at night, and pulses with your heart.
  • Pressure sensitivity, for example when you bite down.
  • Pimple on the side of your gum that oozes liquid.
  • Deep decay that darkens the tooth.

Many patients don’t realize that root canals usually start with a cavity. Although other factors can cause a root canal, most of the time it is because of tooth decay that got bigger over time.

What to Expect at the Root Canal Appointment?

First, we are going to make sure that the tooth is really numb. For extra anxious patients, we can use laughing gas to make them relax. Second, we are going to remove all the caries from the tooth and use special tools to remove the nerve from the canals and clean it really, really well so no infection is left behind. Third, we are going to fill the canals with a special material and build up the broken part of the tooth with filling material. Most of the time, this tooth will need a crown to be put on after the root canal. That is usually because a tooth has a lot of decay and is extremely damaged. Not only will the crown make the tooth look like new, but it will also protect and make it stronger, preventing it from breaking. I had a patient ask me: “Can I just get a root canal and not a crown?” It is a bad idea because after a root canal, the tooth becomes more prone to fractures and might need to be removed if that happens. In that case, we did the root canal for nothing.

What Happens After RCT?

After a root canal is done, you may or may not experience some small discomfort on that tooth. And as long as it gradually gets better, that is what we want to see. Root canal treatment is a very successful procedure, and its success rate is around 95%.

How Can You Prevent a Root Canal?

The most important part is personal oral hygiene and, of course, regular check-ups with your dentist. Your dentist will be able to catch developing cavities ahead of time and prevent them from getting bigger and needing a root canal.