8 important things you need to know root canal treatment
1. What is a root canal treatment?
Root canal treatment is one type of endodontic treatment. Endodontic is originally comes from 2 Greek words “Endo” which means “Inside” & “Odont” which means “Tooth”, so endodontic treatment means treating the inside of the tooth.
Root canal treatment includes the removal of the dental pulp which is soft tissues under the hard tissues of the enamel & dentin. Dental pulp contains blood vessels, connective tissues, nerves & creates the tooth hard tissues during development.
The dental pulp is located in pulp chamber & extends into the tips of the roots. The dental pulp is so significant during the tooth development & growth. Once the tooth is mature & fully grown, it can survive without the dental pulp & it can get the nourishments through the tissues surrounding it.
2. How to know if you need a root canal treatment?
Root canal treatment is mandatory when the pulp tissues become infected or inflamed irreversibly.
The inflammation or infection might occur because of many reasons like: very deep caries, traumatic injuries of the tooth, cracks, chipped parts, etc & sometimes an injury can cause permanent damage even if there is no visible chips or cracks.
If pulp inflammation or infection has been left untreated, it might cause pain, swelling & lead to an abscess. An abscess is a pus-filled pocket that appears at the tips of tooth roots, causing bone loss around the tip of the root & may spread to other areas of the face, neck, or head.
A hole can occur which is called dental fistula through the side of the tooth, with pus fluids & blood drainage into the gums or through the cheek into the skin.
Some signs might happens & require root canal therapy:
- Severe toothache while biting or pressure application on your tooth
- Prolonged sensitivity after applying the heat or cold
- Tooth discoloration or darkening
- Swelling or fistula with or without pus discharge beside the tooth (it might appear as persistent or recurring pimple on the gums)
- However, sometimes no symptoms are presented.
3. Will you feel pain during or after the root canal?
Many endodontic procedures are major procedures, so it’s normal to have some pain after a root canal treatment. As a root canal treatment is performed to relieve the tooth pain caused by infection or irreversible inflammation, it might irritate surrounding gums, nerves & ligaments.
So, it’s normal after a root canal treatment to have mild to moderate pain for a few days especially when biting or applying pressure into the tooth.
The tooth after a root canal treatment is completed might feel slightly different from your other teeth & in some cases your tooth might feel sensitive, especially if there was an abscess or infection before the root canal procedure. This pain or discomfort can be relieved with medications prescribed by your dentist.
In addition, the new techniques, anaesthetics & modern dental products have led into a comfortable root canal procedure for most of the patients.
However, if you continue to have severe pain or sensitivity for more than a few days, call your doctor.
4. Is it possible to save all teeth by performing a Root Canal Treatment?
In most cases, all teeth can be root canal treated. However, in rare cases, root canal treatment may not be possible like tooth vertical fractures especially if it reaches the furcation area (Roots junction point in molars), roots horizontal fractures below bone level, tooth with severe movement or without adequate bone support, tooth is badly broken & can’t be restored, the infection has spread widely and caused changes in the acidity of the surrounding tissue, the tooth roots are not accessible or with irregular shape that leave a root canal procedure inapplicable.
Sometimes, the cool canal becomes infected after it has been done because some problem near the root apex or the abscess wasn’t fully healed. At this point, there might be a chance to save the tooth without removing it by applying an endodontic surgery called apicoectomy to remove the infection along with removing some part of the infected tooth root.
However, teeth may become discoloured and turn dark or grey after a root canal treatment in some cases.
5. Do I need a crown after root canal treatment?
A crown after root canal treatment mainly depends on 2 main factors:
Tooth Location: Tooth towards the back of the mouth like molars and premolars (back-grinding teeth) are usually require a crown after root canal treatment to help save the tooth from breakage during chewing & food biting, where front teeth like incisors or canines may not require a dental crown.
Tooth Remaining Structure (Current Status): Tooth that require a root canal treatment usually has very broken status & require a crown to prevent a fracture of the tooth which may result in the tooth being non-restorable (not fixable) & failure of root canal treatment (if it was done) which will lead at the end to complete tooth loss.
A dental crown is usually recommended by your dentist either to strengthen your tooth because the crown provides more secure restoration than a regular filling or enhance the appearance.
Consult our dentist at DRHC for the reasons you may need a crown.
6. Important reasons why adding a dental crown after root canal procedures is needed!
- Restore a Weak or Fragile Tooth: A tooth can be weakened after the root canal treatment due to drilling, cavity or infection. A dental crown can protect the tooth and preventing any damage to make it last for a long time.
- Obtain a Natural-Looking Color: Teeth may become discoloured and turn dark or grey after a root canal treatment in some cases, so If a tooth appears gray or deeply stained, a dental crown can help restoring the natural color of the tooth to match your other teeth.
- Provide More Secure Restoration: A tooth that previously had a filling because of extensive decay and got chipped or fractured before the root canal treatment should be restored with a dental crown to save it & prevent breakage.
- Prevent tooth Sensitivity & Infection: After root canal treatment, some of the existing nerves might develop sensitivity specially to heat and cold which can be very uncomfortable & tooth surface at higher risk of getting infected or contaminated, so a dental crown will protect the tooth by sealing it off.
Treatment options between root canal treatment or extraction mainly depends on your tooth condition.
At first, your dentist will check & examine your tooth (x-rays are required to evaluate your tooth condition). If your dentist realizes that your tooth can be saved by performing a root canal treatment, it’s better to proceed with it to save your natural tooth so that it could remain in place instead of extraction.
However, your dentist sometimes can't save your tooth because of very large cavity that compromises too much of your tooth's structure, severe fracture or a tooth with a crack that extends below bone level. In that case, extraction might be the best option, followed by a dental implant to replace that tooth.
If you decided to remove your tooth while it can be saved by root canal treatment, you should consider that losing a tooth can lead to some problems including bone loss, other teeth shifting and feeling more aged. However, you should replace your lost tooth & dental implants is the preferred choice.
Getting the root canal usually this is followed by a "build-up" (replacing the lost part of the tooth) and a crown.
Removal of the tooth might be the least expensive option. The problem is that the adjacent and opposing teeth can begin to shift position. The treatment after an extraction can be expensive. Usually after an extraction one would receive either: a) an implant, abutment and crown, b) a dental bridge or c) some type of a partial denture. Probably an implant is the best option and also the most expensive.
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