The root canal is the central portion of teeth that houses the nerves and the blood vessels. A root canal infection occurs when a cavity or an injury to the teeth become so severe that it affects the pulp and the tooth reaches the verge of failure. Root canal treatment is a procedure to save such teeth.
Symptoms of a root canal infection
- The pulp of the teeth gets inflamed and undergoes decay.
- Severe pain near the infected tooth, combined with bleeding and release of pus.
- Elevated levels of sensitivity to hot and cold foods.
- Persistent bad breath.
- The gums around the tooth experience swelling and redness.
- In extreme cases, the tooth may loosen from its socket due to jawbone deterioration, resulting in tooth loss.
How is a root canal therapy performed?
The dentist or root canal specialist examines the teeth to determine the severity of the condition and takes x-rays of the mouth to check for any signs of jawbone deterioration. The tooth and the surrounding gums are numbed using local anesthesia to ensure maximum comfort during the procedure.
A small hole is made on the infected tooth and tiny dental files are used to extract the infected pulp from within the cavity. The walls of the root canal are gently scrubbed to remove the microbes that have adhered to them. In case the gums are affected due to the infection, they may have to be removed surgically. A small amount of biocompatible medication would be placed in the tooth in order to prevent the infection from occurring again. The hole would be sealed off using a tooth-colored composite filling.
After a root canal therapy, the tooth tends to become weaker as it no longer has nourishment. Chances run high that it could crumble when the patient bites or chews something hard. Hence, the dentist would usually recommend a restoration in the form of a dental crown. The crown would hold the tooth intact and prevent it from failing. Also, the crown would cover any discoloration that usually occurs when a tooth undergoes a root canal therapy.
Eating foods that are too hot, cold or spicy should be avoided for a few weeks after the therapy. Also, chewing food on the side of the treated tooth should be avoided as it could cause pain and sensitivity. Maintaining optimum oral health by brushing and flossing and seeing your dentist for regular checkups is essential to avoid the chances of reinfection.