A root canal is one of those dental procedures that everyone has heard of. But most people would have difficulty explaining exactly what root canal treatment is. At Glow Dental, we provide root canal treatment to dozens of patients every year, and the results can be genuinely life-changing. Here, we explain what is involved in a root canal and what a dentist can do for you.
What Is A Root Canal?
If you have pain or inflammation in the tooth and gums, it is commonly a result of an infection in the nerves inside the teeth. This can come about for a number of reasons, but typically it is due to decay or damage such as broken teeth or a crack in the tooth allowing infection to take hold. If the infection is left unchecked, it may kill the nerve, and ultimately the entire tooth. The process is long and painful.
A root canal treatment is a special kind of dental surgery that removes the infected pulp, cleans the tiny canals of blood vessels and prolongs the life of your tooth, at the same time relieving your pain and discomfort. It is very delicate work, and at Glow Dental, root canal treatment is performed with precision using specialised rotary instruments.
Who Needs Root Canal Treatment?
Clearly, root canal treatment is appropriate if you have an infected tooth. The most common indications of infection are toothache, tenderness and inflamed or bleeding gums. You, or those around you, might also notice an unpleasant odour on your breath. It is vitally important that you consult with your private dentist without delay if you have any of these symptoms, as time is of the essence in successful root canal treatment.
Having A Root Canal
The phrase “I’d sooner have a root canal” has entered common parlance as a way to describe some highly unpleasant experience, so it is understandable that you might feel apprehensive about the treatment. However, like all modern dental procedures, root canal work is painless, and the end result is well worth any short-term discomfort or inconvenience. The exact form of treatment will depend on your own unique circumstances. However, root canal work usually takes place over three visits.
In the first visit, the dentist will explain the whole process and work through any alternatives with you. If the infection is at an advanced stage, extracting the tooth might be a more practical option, but where viable, saving the tooth with root canal treatment will always be the preferable course of action. If the infection is causing you pain, the dentist will also be able to provide some relief in the form of a medicated dressing to give you immediate comfort. You should start to notice the positive effects after about 24 hours.
The second visit involves the root canal work itself. Your dentist will give you a local anaesthetic so that you don’t feel a thing while the procedure is underway. The canals will be widened and irrigated to clean them and to remove the infected pulp. You will not feel any pain, but it does take a while, so boredom can set in! The process is delicate and can take up to 90 minutes. Sometimes, it might need to be done across two visits. Once this stage is complete, the dentist will apply a temporary filling to protect the tooth.
The final consultation takes place about a week later when the treated tooth has had time to settle. The temporary filling will be removed, the tooth checked, and the canal sealed to give it permanent protection and to guard against the risk of reinfection.
Benefits Of Root Canal Treatment
We mentioned earlier that having a root canal treatment can change your life. That might sound over-effusive, but most people who need this type of treatment have been living with an infected tooth for some time. To finally be rid of the pain, sensitivity, inflammation and bad breath is an incredibly liberating experience. It is certainly well worth a few hours of boredom and mild discomfort in the dentist’s chair!
Root canal work also provides a second chance for an infected tooth. In years gone by, when infection set in, the only option was to have the tooth removed and then face the decision of what to do about the resulting gap. While extraction followed by the fitting of an implant or bridge is still an alternative, it is far better to save the tooth with root canal treatment if that is possible.
Common Questions For Root Canals
There is truth in the old saying that prevention is better than cure. Root canal treatment work is a highly effective treatment for an infected tooth, so the best way to avoid it is to avoid the infection in the first place. The key here comes down to your oral hygiene routine. Brush and floss twice daily to reduce the opportunities for decay to set in and keep to your routine appointments with the dentist and hygienist. Also, take care of any teeth that you know are weakened and avoid crunching on hard foods. If you play a sport where anything could come into contact with your face, always wear a mouth guard to reduce the risk of cracked or damaged teeth.
Root canal treatment is painless, as your tooth and gum will be numbed under a local anaesthetic before any invasive procedure. Our dentists at Glow Dental will ensure any discomfort is kept to a minimum. Sitting with your mouth open for more than an hour can become tiresome and uncomfortable, but if this becomes the case, just let the dentist know so you can both take a few minutes from the treatment.
It is never possible to give a 100 per cent guarantee that a root canal will save an infected tooth. However, the success rate is more than 90 per cent, so you know that by undertaking root canal treatment, you are giving your tooth the best possible chance of survival. During the initial consultation, your dentist will give pragmatic advice on this point, and will only recommend root canal treatment if there is a high likelihood of success. If the infection is at an advanced stage, you might be advised that extraction is the more viable course of action. Either way, you will be given all the information and advice you need so you can make an informed decision.
If there are indications that you have an infected tooth, then root canal treatment is likely to be necessary. These indications include toothache, heightened sensitivity, swollen or bleeding gums and bad breath. If you think you have an infection, you should book an appointment with your dentist straight away. The longer the delay, the worse the symptoms will get, and the more difficult it will be to save the tooth with root canal treatment.
How Will An Appointment Schedule Look When Root Canal Treatment Is Necessary; Will I Need Days Off Work?
To a certain extent, this depends on the severity of your specific case. Root canal treatment typically involves three visits, each of which is one to two weeks apart. The first and third consultations usually take around 45-60 minutes each, while the second takes one to two hours. Your dentist will work with you to schedule the consultations around your other commitments as much as possible. When you have the treatment itself, it will hasten your recovery if you can take a day or two off work to relax and recuperate.