Root canal treatment is probably the most feared of all dental procedures, and with good reason: it usually takes a while and it usually hurts for a while afterwards. Dental root canal treatment is one of the least pleasant aspects of dentistry, both for patient and dentist, since it involves the actual removal of gum and root matter, a surgical procedure, done in the dentists office, which lasts several hours in some cases. However, unlike the old wives tales and newer stereotypes, the root canal usually does not hurt the patient during the actual procedure.
So, when anyone says something like, agreeing with my wife is my second favorite thing; my first favorite is a root canal, you might remind him that the second favorite is probably more painful than the first.
What is root canal treatment? Its the removal of the pulp tissue beneath a tooth, tissue that has become contaminated with a microbe infection that will not respond to dental washes or antibiotic medication. Because an infected root or tooth pulp may damage or contaminate other teeth, the root material must be removed.
This is a rather complicated procedure (its called endodontic surgery) that removes blood vessels, nerve tissue and the contaminated pulp material from the bottom of the tooth. In the case where a tooth can actually be saved from this infection rather than lost (extracted), the dentist will drill into the pulp center, called the chamber, of the tooth, and will remove the infected cells.
A long needle-like drill is used for this procedure, which accounts for the fearful reputation dental root canal treatment has, but, in actuality, the dentist will completely numb the area. The patient may feel a mild pressure, but no actual pain should be experienced during the operation.
Once the infection is removed, the canal is sterilized clean and refilled with a substitute material, a non-elastic substance called gutta-percha. This compound, a form of latex, is melted, then inserted into the hollow of the pulp and sealed over with orthodontic sealer and cement. Usually when the latex is heated, an overabundance is injected into the cavity and allowed to cool, to thus fit itself to the hollow of the pulp.
Most dentists recommend, once root canal treatment is complete, that the renewed and refilled tooth be covered with a crown; this extends the life and health of the tooth nearly six times beyond what it might otherwise experience.
NOW is when the pain startsas the numbing solution wears off and the full extent of the invasive technique makes itself known with tooth and gum pain. In most cases, the discomfort is mild and easily overcome with aspirin or Ibuprofen; in more markedly painful cases, a toothache solution such as oil of cloves may be indicated. If the treated tooth abscesses (developing pus in the chamber), the dentist may need to drain the tooth in a second visit, and then prescribe an antibiotic.
So now youve answered the question, what is root canal treatment?And of course, once the pain clears, the relief beginsparticularly the relief that root canal treatment has given you back a healthy mouth again.