The revolution in the medical industry has brought many changes and helped many patients. Today, you don’t have to be afraid of losing your tooth after nerve damage through a painful procedure. Technology and dental research have made it possible for the dentist to treat the infected pulp tissue without the patient experiencing any pain. Therefore, if you are having problems eating, sleeping, and your teeth are sensitive to hot and cold things, you might have damaged nerves. At Encino Emergency Dentist, we provide root canal treatment to patients who have diseased pulp tissues. Our dentists offer the most convenient way of treatment to avoid the pain associated with the root canal procedure and save your smile.
Definition of Root Canal
It is defined as a dental process that is used to treat or repair a dead tooth that has been damaged after dental infection reaches the pulp chamber of your tooth. When the infection gets to the pulp, it ends up damaging the nerves and blood vessels, leading to the death of a tooth. Instead of extracting a dead tooth, the treatment saves the teeth. In the procedure, when the blood vessels and nerves in the pulp chamber are damaged, they are pulled out, and the opening left is cleaned and closed. The pulp is removed to prevent the multiplication of bacteria in the pulp chamber, which results in infections and dental abscess. If the abscess is not controlled, it can lead to swelling of the areas around your neck, face, or even the head. Also, it can lead to bone loss around the tip of the root.
Note that the nerves of a tooth are not very important once the tooth has erupted. But they help with sensory; that’s why people with a damaged pulp will feel a sensation when consuming something hot or cold. A root canal is, therefore, essential in restoring your sensory or preventing tooth extraction after tooth decay or dental abscess.
Reasons for Root Canal Treatment
There are several reasons why you would require this form of dental treatment. These reasons include:
- Deep decay
- Faulty crown
- Crack on the tooth
- Repeated dental procedures on the tooth
- Injury to a tooth
Common Signs You Need a Root Canal
It is hard to know when you need to improve your oral hygiene and when to seek help from a dental professional. A tooth that requires root canal therapy might not be painful, which is why self-diagnosis is not advisable. Visit a dentist because they are better equipped to tell if you have signs that indicate the need for root canal treatment. Note that physical symptoms do not show at the initial stages. You start experiencing them when the infection or the disease is at an advanced stage. At this time, the tooth might already be dead, and the only treatment available might be a root canal. However, if you are the kind that pays regular visits to the dentist, symptoms might be noticed early and treated, thus avoiding a root canal. Sure signs can indicate your tooth is infected, and you need a root canal. These signs include:
- Persistent Pain
If you are experiencing minimal to severe pain, it is an indicator that something is not right with your tooth root. The pain in the roots might be experienced when undertaking your daily routines, such as eating or drinking. If this happens, it is time to pay a visit to your dentist. Your dental professional is going to examine the area where you are feeling the pain and see if the blood vessels or nerves are swollen because of infections. If they are, the root canal procedure will be administered to ease the pain.
- Sensitivity to Hot and Cold
When you begin to feel sensitivity after consuming something hot or cold, it means your nerves have been damaged. If the condition is not treated, the sensitivity turns into aches and eventually progresses into acute pain. Whenever you are having difficulties consuming something hot or cold, the nerves and blood vessels might be the problem. The best way to treat such issues is through a root canal.
- Deep Decay
If your tooth has decayed up to the base, oral hygiene cannot be a remedy. Every time dental caries or cavities are neglected for an extended duration spreading to the nerves and tooth root, a root canal is the best way to fix the problem. After that, a dental crown might then be fitted. You can avoid deep decay by maintaining healthy oral hygiene. Regular brushing and flossing your teeth and gums will prevent the spread of bacteria and infections that result in tooth decay. Making frequent visits to your dentist can also be instrumental in preventing tooth decay.
- Prolonged Sensitivity
If you experience sensitivity in your teeth every time you apply pressure on them for weeks, it is a sign the roots of your teeth are damaged. These roots can never heal on their own, which is why root canal treatment is the best option.
- Tooth Discoloration
Tooth discoloration can stem from many things such as poor hygiene, nerve damage, and eating or drinking things that stain your tooth enamel. A discoloration caused by nerve and blood vessel damage is severe. You need to visit a dentist immediately so that you can book an appointment for a root canal to get rid of the damaged root.
- Swelling and Irritation Around the Gum Tissue
If the area around your gums are swollen or irritating, it is an indicator there is an underlying problem. Making a trip to the dentist can help a lot in knowing the source of the problem. In the event the swelling doesn’t go away, the dentist might suggest a root canal to fix the issue of inflamed or swollen gums.
- Chipped Tooth
If a dental implant goes wrong or you are knocked down during sports, your tooth might get cracked or chipped. When this happens, the nerves below the tooth might be exposed to bacteria causing infection. Such an infection can enter the blood vessels and spread to other teeth. If such an infection goes untreated, the root canal is the best way to prevent further infection from spreading and eliminate the pain.
The majority of dentists out there will recommend root canal treatment where there is a need to save a diseased tooth and preserve its functionality.
Root Canal Treatment and How It Saves your Tooth
Many people don’t know how this procedure saves their teeth. First, the treatment removes the inflamed pulp then carefully cleans it and shapes the inside. After, the space inside the root canal is filled and adequately sealed. You will be required to go back to the dentist so that a crown can be fitted or any other type of restoration that you might prefer. After that, your tooth will regain its standard functionality.
Root Canal Procedure
The treatment requires at least three visits to a dentist or endodontist. Endodontists are defined as dental professionals who specialize in treat infected pulp chambers and nerves of the teeth. A dentist will refer you to an endodontist if he or she feels that your tooth needs specialized care. Once you have agreed on the suitable treatment as a root canal, you will be prescribed antibiotics days before the procedure.
The first step of the process involves an examination of the teeth or tooth by the endodontist or dentist. The dental professional takes an x-ray to have a view of the root canal and find out if the surrounding bones have been infected. After, the expert will anesthetize the area surrounding the tooth and then numb it. Because the nerves around this area are already dead, anesthesia is not necessary, but still, dental experts use it to make patients comfortable. Once the tooth is numb, the dentists place a dental dam to isolate the tooth and keep the area dry and free of saliva.
The next step involves the dental professional drilling a hole or making an opening at the tip of your tooth. The gap gives the dentist access to the pulp chamber, where the decayed nerve tissues and other debris are removed. Root canal files or nickel titanium pin-like files are the tools used to cleanse the canal by removing all the infections and debris. The debris is flushed out from time to time using water or sodium hypochlorite. The process has to be undertaken with much caution because there is a risk of trauma or damage around the ligament and the bone. Other additional tools that are used in the cleansing of the root canal include x-rays, apex locator, and microscope. After the cleaning, the root canal is shaped and ready for filling.
After space has been cleaned and shaped, the dentist begins to fill the canal using biocompatible materials. Before the tooth is sealed, the dentist will give you seven days in case of an infection. Medication will be put in the space on the tooth to clear infections. Some dentists might not wait for one week to seal the tooth. They open, cleanse, and seal the tooth the same day. If your dentists opt to wait for one week, a temporary seal will be placed on the tooth to prevent contamination from saliva or food.
When the time for filling the root canal comes, the dentist will use sealer paste and gutta-percha. A temporary filling is then used to fill the access hole drilled at the beginning of the process.
The final visit to your dentist, which is also the last step of the treatment, involves the fitting of a crown or any other kind of restoration on the tooth that was being treated. The restorations help protect the tooth from breaking because a root canal is done on a tooth with an extensive filling or one that has a deep decay. If, after a root canal, a weak tooth is left that way, it might fracture or fail to function correctly. But when a crown or other restoration is placed on the tooth, it regains its strength and begins to function normally. Once the restoration is fitted, you are free to go home.
Expectations After the Root Canal Procedure
The majority of people about to undergo root canal expect to experience a lot of pain. However, to their surprise, they experience little or no pain. Once the procedure is completed, a few days later, you might experience tissue swelling or discomfort. This should not worry you because OTC medications can control it. The majority of people will, however, return to their regular routines the next day after the procedure. Those who had infections before the treatment are the ones who take time to recover. As a precautionary measure, it is essential to avoid chewing food with the tooth under repair or eating hard food. The reason being doing so might expose you to contamination or result in tooth fracture. It is also advisable to brush and floss your teeth often and maintain regular dental visits after a root canal procedure.
Benefits of a Root Canal Treatment
The majority of patients who undergo root canal describe the process as painless. This can be attributed to modern dental technology and effective anesthesia. There are various clinical reasons why a root canal is essential, but there are also numerous benefits of keeping your natural teeth. With proper root canal treatment, you get to maintain your natural smile and continue enjoying your regular diet with fewer visits to the dentist. Below are some of the benefits of a root canal:
Virtually Pain-Free Procedure
The treatment is practically painless contrary to the myths that associate it with severe pain. Compared to tooth extraction, root canal treatment is more comfortable during recovery. Because of the latest dental techniques and products, the root canal has been made painless.
Efficient and Cost-Effective
The majority of insurers today cover endodontic treatment, which helps reduce the cost of treatment for patients. Also, root canal treatment takes a short duration with only three appointments to the dentist and cut follow-up appointments to the endodontist. Tooth extraction takes a long time and involves several appointments, which end up making the process costly and less effective.
The results of a root canal are more appealing compared to other forms of dental treatment. The reason being, after the root canal is filled, a crown is fitted on the natural tooth, thus making it aesthetically appealing. The crowns or other restorations make you more presentable and improve the beauty of your teeth.
Advantages of Modern Technology Instruments in Root Canal Treatment
Advancement in technology has led to revolutionary dental treatment because of the introduction of modern dental instruments. Some of the latest tools that have significantly improved root canal treatment include:
- Ultrasonic Needle
During a root canal treatment, the dental file being used might break, and to remove it is almost impossible, especially if the canal is narrow and vast. In the past broken files would lead to the extraction of the tooth that was being saved. But today, with the ultrasonic needles, you don’t have to worry about broken files resulting in the extraction of your tooth.
- Water Laser
The water laser technology is new in the market, and it is used in disinfecting the tooth. With the water laser, your dentists are guaranteed that the whole tooth will be sanitized even where there are very narrow canals.
Potential Complications after a Root Canal
Tooth canals are reported to be 95% effective, which means they are always successful. However, because people are not the same, complications might arise after the procedure due to new infections. Some of the complications include:
Instrument Breakage within the Canal
Dentists use root canal or dental files to remove the debris, infections, and shape the root canal. Some of the walls of the canal are wavy and might lead to the breakage of these instruments. If the broken tool is left inside the tooth, it can lead to complications. But if it is successful removed, no complications will occur.
Tooth Color Change
Your teeth might discolor when the diseased root of your tooth infuses through the dentin. Cases of color change are minimal and can be treated through esthetics.
Unidentified Crown or Tooth Fracture
After the removal of the pulp chamber, the tooth dies, leaving it frail or breakable. If the tooth has any fractures or cracks that have not been identified during the procedure, bacteria might access the tooth leading to infection. Also, because crowns are used to reinforce the tooth after the root canal treatment, if the crown has a fracture that has not been seen, the fracture might allow recontamination.
Severe Reaction to Anesthesia
Complications might also arise from the local anesthesia used in the procedure. If you have an allergic reaction to anesthesia, you must inform your dentist so that they can avoid using it.
After the procedure, some patients are said to experience numbness around the area of the tooth being repaired. The numbness occurs as a result of nerve disruption and can go up to a week before getting back to normal.
Recurrence of an Infection
Two seals are placed on a root canal. After some time, erosion can occur, breaking down the inner sealing allowing recontamination of the inner part of the teeth. Also, a defective dental restoration can enable bacteria to repopulate, thus infecting the tooth again. Good oral hygiene will help the seals last for long, thus preventing the recurrence of infections.
Reasons Some Root Canals Fail
Although the majority of root canal procedures are successful, at times, they might fail even when being performed by a professional dentist or endodontist. Some of the reasons for the failure include:
- Vast and Narrow Root Canals
In case the root canal of the tooth being cleansed is vast and narrow, there will be limited space for removal of all infections and debris. If this happens, the infections and debris left could affect the tooth again, even after the treatment.
- Difficulties Disinfecting the Canal
Once thorough cleaning has been done, the next step is usually disinfecting the canal. However, it might be impossible to disinfect the canal if it’s very narrow entirely. Disinfection helps prevent bacteria, causing infection from accumulating. If it is not done right, there is a likelihood of recurrence of infections.
- Unsuccessful Seal
There are multiple reasons a seal can fail. Some of the reasons include a fractured crown or tooth. Also, poor oral hygiene can lead to deterioration of the seal, which can result in infection recurrence.
Alternatives to a Root Canals
Natural teeth are significant assets because they allow you to eat whatever you want, thus being able to maintain a healthy diet. A root canal is an excellent option if you need treatment and still want to retain your natural teeth. Where a root canal is necessary and doable, the best alternative for the procedure is extraction and having the tooth replaced by an implant, bridge, or denture to restore the standard functionality. These alternatives are not the best because they are costly, time-consuming, and require more follow-up appointments.
Root Canal Prevention
As said earlier, the leading causes of the root canal are profound decay and recurrent dental procedures on a tooth. Issues like trauma cannot be easily prevented but wearing a mouth guard during sports. But things relating to oral hygiene like deep decay will require you to brush your teeth two times within twenty-four hours, floss the teeth once a day and make regular trips to your dentist. If you do this, you will avoid a root canal treatment.
Find a Encino Emergency Dentist
If you begin to experience signs of an infection in your root canal, don’t wait until it is too late to take action. Your objective should be to save your natural tooth, which is an asset instead of having it extracted and replaced with an artificial one. Therefore, if you experience any symptoms of a root canal, call the Encino Emergency Dentist at 818-850-2969. Our dentists are committed to saving your natural teeth as much as you do.