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Necessary Things to know about Root Canal Treatment

03 May 2024

Root canal treatment is an endodontic procedure that addresses issues affecting the inside of the tooth. During this procedure, the dental pulp, which is the soft tissue located beneath the hard tissues of the dentin and enamel, is removed. The dental pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissues, and it plays a crucial role in the development of the tooth's hard tissues. While the dental pulp is essential for tooth development and growth, once the tooth is fully mature, it can survive without the pulp, receiving nourishment from the surrounding tissues.

How do you know if you need a root canal?

Root canal treatment is necessary when the pulp tissues become irreversibly inflamed or infected. This can occur due to various reasons, such as a cracked or chipped tooth, deep caries, or traumatic tooth injuries. In some cases, an injury may lead to permanent damage even without visible cracks or chips.

If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause severe swelling, pain, and the formation of a dental abscess. An abscess is a pus-filled pocket that forms at the tip of the tooth root, leading to bone loss around the root tip. This infection can spread to other areas of the face, head, or neck.

In some cases, a dental fistula may develop, which is a hole that forms through the side of the tooth, allowing pus, fluids, and blood to drain into the gums or through the cheek into the skin.

Some signs that may indicate the need for root canal therapy include:

  • Extreme toothache when biting or applying pressure to the tooth.
  • Prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold after the stimulus has been removed.
  • Darkening or discoloration of the tooth.
  • Swelling or the presence of a fistula (a pimple-like bump) near the tooth, with or without pus discharge.

It's important to note that in some cases, there may be no symptoms present. If you experience any of these signs, it's important to consult with a dental professional for an accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Will there be pain during or after the root canal?

It is common to experience some degree of pain or discomfort after a root canal therapy, as the procedure involves addressing infection or irreversible inflammation that may have been causing toothache. The treatment may result in temporary irritation to the surrounding gums, ligaments, and nerves.

After a root canal treatment, it is normal to experience mild to moderate pain for a few days, especially when biting or applying pressure to the tooth. The treated tooth may feel different from your other teeth, and it may be sensitive, particularly if there was an infection or abscess prior to the root canal. This discomfort or pain can often be managed with medications prescribed by your dentist.

Advancements in techniques, anesthetics, and dental products have made root canal procedures more comfortable for most patients. However, if you experience extreme sensitivity or pain lasting more than a few days, it is advisable to contact your dentist.

Can Root Canal Treatment Save All Teeth?

Root canal treatment can successfully save most teeth. However, in certain extreme cases, it may not be feasible. These cases include:

  • Teeth with vertical fractures extending to the furcation area
  • Teeth with excessive movement or inadequate bone support
  • Teeth with horizontal root fractures below the bone level
  • Teeth that are broken beyond restoration
  • Teeth with widespread infection and significant changes in the acidity of surrounding tissue
  • Teeth with inaccessible or irregularly shaped roots that make root canal treatment challenging

In some instances, if the canal becomes infected due to issues near the root apex or an unresolved abscess, endodontic surgery may be an option. This procedure involves removing the infected portion of the tooth root to eliminate the infection and potentially save the tooth.

It's important to note that after root canal treatment, some teeth may become discolored, turning grey or dark. If you have concerns about the suitability of root canal treatment for your specific situation, it's best to consult with a dental professional who can provide personalized advice and recommendations.

Is a Dental Crown Necessary After Root Canal Treatment?

The need for a dental crown after root canal treatment primarily depends on two factors:

  • Tooth Location: Teeth located at the back of the mouth, such as molars and premolars (back-grinding teeth), typically require a dental crown after root canal treatment. This is because these teeth are subjected to higher forces during biting and chewing, and a crown can help prevent them from breaking. On the other hand, front teeth like canines or incisors may not always need a crown.
  • Remaining Tooth Structure: Teeth that undergo root canal treatment often have significant structural damage. A crown can help protect these weakened teeth from further fracture, potentially preventing the tooth from becoming non-restorable and leading to complete tooth loss.

Dentists usually recommend a dental crown to either strengthen the tooth, as it provides a more secure restoration than a regular filling, or to improve the tooth's appearance.

The Importance of Adding a Crown After Root Canal Treatment

  • Restoration of Fragile or Weak Teeth: A tooth may become weakened after a root canal due to factors such as cavities, drilling, or infection. A dental crown can protect the tooth and prevent further damage, ensuring its longevity.
  • Achieving a Natural Look: Teeth can become discolored and turn grey or dark after a root canal. A crown can restore the natural color of the tooth, ensuring it matches the surrounding teeth and improves the overall appearance.
  • Securing Restoration: Teeth that have had extensive decay and have been previously filled, fractured, or chipped may require a root canal. A crown can restore and protect these teeth, preventing further breakage and ensuring their functionality.
  • Preventing Tooth Infection and Sensitivity: After a root canal, some residual nerves may cause sensitivity to hot and cold items, which can be uncomfortable. Additionally, the tooth surface may be prone to contamination or infection. A dental crown can seal off the tooth, providing protection and reducing sensitivity.

What is a Core Build up and why is it important after Root Canal Treatment?

A core build-up is a restorative dental procedure where a filling material is used to replace missing tooth structure in preparation for a crown after a root canal treatment. It helps to strengthen the tooth and provides support for the crown.

Core build-up is crucial for several reasons:

  • Strength and Support: After a root canal, the tooth may be weakened due to decay or removal of infected tissue. Core build-up provides a stable foundation for the final restoration, usually a crown, to ensure the tooth can withstand biting forces.
  • Retention: It helps retain the shape and structure of the tooth, ensuring the crown fits securely and does not dislodge.
  • Preventing Fractures: Core build-up helps prevent fractures or further damage to the tooth by reinforcing its structure.
  • Sealing: It seals the access point created during the root canal procedure, preventing bacteria from re-entering the tooth and causing reinfection.

Overall, core build-up is essential for restoring the tooth's function, appearance, and longevity after a root canal treatment.

Root Canal vs. Tooth Extraction: Which is Better?

The choice between root canal treatment and tooth extraction depends on the condition of your tooth. Initially, the dentist will examine your tooth, which typically involves X-rays to assess its condition. If the dentist determines that your tooth can be saved with a root canal, it is generally better to proceed with this treatment to preserve the natural tooth and maintain its position in the mouth.

However, in some cases, the tooth may not be salvageable due to extensive damage, such as a large cavity that compromises a significant portion of the tooth structure, extreme fractures, or a cracked tooth that extends below the bone level. In such scenarios, tooth extraction might be the best option, followed by the placement of an implant to replace the missing tooth.

Consequences of Tooth Extraction vs. Root Canal Treatment

Choosing to remove a tooth instead of opting for a root canal treatment can lead to several issues:

  • Bone Loss: The absence of a tooth can result in bone loss in the jaw over time.
  • Teeth Shifting: Adjacent teeth may shift into the gap left by the missing tooth, potentially leading to misalignment.
  • Aged Appearance: Missing teeth can cause the face to appear older due to changes in the jaw and facial structure.

If a tooth is extracted, it is important to consider replacing it. Dental implants are often the preferred choice for tooth replacement due to their durability and ability to preserve bone structure.

If a tooth is extracted, it is important to consider replacing it. Dental implants are often the preferred choice for tooth replacement due to their durability and ability to preserve bone structure.

On the other hand, a root canal treatment can save the natural tooth, which can then be restored with a build-up and a crown. This approach maintains the tooth's position and integrity, preventing the issues associated with tooth loss.

While the initial cost of tooth extraction may seem lower, the subsequent treatments required to address the consequences, such as implants, bridges, or partial dentures, can be more expensive in the long run. Among these options, implants are considered the most effective but also the most costly.

You may visit here and talk to endodontists before performing root canal treatment.