What is the treatment?
Root canal is a term which is used for describing your natural cavity that lies within the center of your tooth. The nerves of the tooth lie in the root canal. When the nerve tissue or the pulp of your tooth gets damaged, it will break down resulting in multiplication of bacteria in the pulp chamber. The presence of bacteria and the decayed debris may cause a tooth infection. It can also cause a swelling that sometimes spreads to the other parts of the neck, face or head.
If you are experiencing pain, tooth discoloration, swelling or a feeling of tenderness in your lymph nodes, there may be a chance that you require a root canal treatment.
A root canal is performed for repairing or saving an infected tooth that has been damaged badly. The procedure is carried out by removing the area of the tooth that is damaged, commonly known as the pulp. After that, the area is cleaned and disinfected before being filled and sealed. Once this initial treatment is performed, you can visit the dentist later who may place a crown on the affected tooth for protection and restore it to function perfectly. A root canal treatment may comprise of one to three visits to the dentist, depending on the severity of the condition.
How is the treatment done?
A root canal involves the following steps:
- Initially, you have to undergo an x-ray so that your doctor can examine and locate the position of your infected tooth. After it has been located, the dentist will administer local anesthesia for numbing the area around that particular tooth.
- The doctor then places a rubber sheet around the affected tooth to ensure that the area is dry.
- A hole is drilled in your tooth to remove the debris and the nerve tissues that have decayed. Suitable files are used to scrape away the decayed portion in the process. Sodium hypochlorite or water is periodically used for flushing away the debris.
- Once the tooth has been thoroughly cleaned, the doctor seals it. In case there is an infection, your doctor may apply some medicine to cure it before sealing the tooth.
- If the treatment remains incomplete, the exterior hole of your tooth is given a temporary filling to keep away the food and saliva. The permanent filling is done in the following appointment.
- The permanent filling is done with a material called gutta-percha (a tough and rigid substance from the latex of some specific trees).
- The final step is the restoration of your tooth. In this process, a crown is placed on the teeth for protection and safeguarding it from breaking. The crown also makes sure that the affected tooth regains its full functionality.
Who is eligible for the treatment? (When is the treatment done?)
You may require a root canal if you suffer from the following conditions:
- Acute pain in the teeth when you are chewing food or if you are putting pressure in that area
- Sensitivity when you are consuming any food either hot or cold. Often, the feeling lingers long after you have eaten such foods.
- Bump on your tooth gums near the area where it is paining
- Darkening of your tooth
- Swelling or tenderness in the gums
Who is not eligible for the treatment?
A person is not eligible for undergoing a root canal if he/she is suffering from:
- Infections or fever
- Osteoporosis (the condition wherein the bones become brittle and weak)
- Autoimmune diseases
- If he/ she is taking blood thinning medications. In this case, your dentist can advise you to stop taking blood thinners for some days before the treatment commences.
Are there any side effects?
The possible side effects of a root canal procedure can be the following:
- You may experience a dull pain after the procedure. It generally does not last for more than a week. In case any bacteria remain, the infection can begin once again. So it is better to visit your doctor if you experience a recurring pain.
- In some cases, there is a formation of a crack at the root of your treated tooth, which can go unnoticed by your doctor. The crack exposes the area to bacterial infection.
- If the crown comes loose, your treated tooth will get exposed. The seal that has been made will erode which can bring back the infection. You must get your dislodged crown fixed immediately.
- If the fillers were of defective material, it will eventually erode, thus leading to bacterial infection.
What are the post-treatment guidelines?
There are certain post-treatment guidelines you should adhere to after you have undergone a root canal treatment:
- Ensure that you take your medicines timely as prescribed by your doctor
- Regular brushing and flossing your teeth is important. You should pay special attention in maintaining oral hygiene.
- Do not consume any food or drink for two to three hours after the procedure. You can accidentally bite your teeth or tongue as the area would be numb. As soon as the numbness wears off, you can start eating.
- It is advisable to avoid crunchy and hard foods for a few days after the treatment
- If you have had a temporary filling, some of it can wear off in between your scheduled appointments. If you see that your entire filling is wearing off, consult the doctor immediately.
- A swelling inside the mouth or outside must at once be shown to your doctor.
How long does it take to recover?
Many people do not feel any discomfort after 2 or 3 days, while for some people it may take a little longer. It usually takes seven days to completely recover from a root canal procedure. Once your permanent crown has been placed, you are likely to get accustomed to it within one or two weeks.
What is the price of the treatment in India?
In India, a root canal treatment can cost around Rs. 2000 to Rs. 3500. The additional price of the crown could be around Rs. 3000 to Rs. 4000.
Are the results of the treatment permanent?
The result of a root canal treatment is considered to be permanent. If the treatment isn't faulty, the results should last you a lifetime.
What are the alternatives to the treatment?
The alternative for a root canal procedure is tooth extraction. It is considered to be a much quicker process where the affected tooth will be extracted and removed from its cavity.