Root Canal Therapy (RCT)

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Impact Dental Care Infected Tooth Root Canal

A tooth is made up of three main components: a hard protective shell referred to as enamel, a softer and sensitive middle layer referred to as dentin and a soft tissue inner layer referred to as dental pulp. Dental pulp is composed of nerve tissue, lymph tissue and blood vessels, and is considered to be the vital part of a tooth. If dental pulp is sufficiently traumatized – whether by exposure to oral bacteria via deep dental caries, a fracture in the tooth that enters the pulp or a forceful blow to the face – the tooth begins to die and root canal therapy is often required in order to prevent or eliminate infection and prevent tooth loss.

A root canal therapy is a dental procedure that is used to remove diseased pulp tissue from the interior of a tooth. The narrow channels beneath the pulp chamber in the inner part of the tooth are hollowed out and cleaned, and the roots are tightly sealed back.

What are some common symptoms?

Certain signs may indicate that you have a diseased tooth or infected nerve and therefore may need a root canal. These signs include:

  • Minimal to severe pain.
  • Tooth or gum pain, discoloration, or prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold.
  • Swelling and irritation in the surrounding gum tissue.
  • Pus drainage in your mouth.
  • A tooth abscess (pus enclosed in the tissues of the jawbone at the tip of an infected tooth).
  • Multiple dental procedures on the same tooth.
  • Signs of infection visible on a radiograph.

Sometimes an endodontic problem can exist without warning signs. In these cases, a Digital X-ray taken during a routine dental checkup will reveal the tooth damage.

Dentists typically recommend a root canal in such situations to save the affected tooth and preserve its functionality.

What happens after I am diagnosed?

After reviewing a Digital X-ray of your tooth, your dentist will thoroughly examine your teeth, gums and supporting bone structure, recommend a treatment plan, discuss it with you, and answer your questions.

Root canal treatment is completed in one or two office visits, depending on the presence of infection and the required treatment plan. After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth. With good oral hygiene, the restored tooth has the potential to last a lifetime.

Root Canal Therapy Procedure

  • A local anesthetic is applied to the affected tooth and surrounding area.
  • A small, protective sheet called a "dental dam" is used to isolate the tooth to keep it clean and free of saliva during your procedure.
  • An opening is made in the top of the tooth and dentist will remove the soft pulp and nerve and then shape the interior for filling.
  • The root canal is cleaned, medicated, and filled with a rubber-like biocompatible material known as gutta percha.
  • Opening is filled with filling like material called Build up.
  • Permanent restoration, such as a crown is placed, to protect the tooth.
Impact Dental Care Root Canal Procedure

Recovery and Follow up

When the local anesthetic has worn off, your tooth may be sore from the procedure. Dentist may recommend a pain reliever to take at home, and depending on the circumstances behind your root canal, antibiotics may be prescribed to clear up any remaining infection in the tooth. If you were on antibiotics before the procedure, your dentist will instruct you to finish the remaining medication.

You should be able to resume your normal routine the day after the procedure. Avoid chewing with the damaged tooth until it's permanently filled, or a crown is placed over the top.

It may take you several weeks to get used to how the tooth feels after the procedure. This is normal and no cause for concern.

Risks of a root canal

A root canal is performed in an effort to save your tooth. Sometimes, however, the damage is too deep or the enamel is too frail to withstand the procedure. These factors can lead to loss of the tooth.

Another risk is developing an abscess at the root of the tooth if some of the infected material remains behind or if the antibiotics aren't effective enough.

If you're apprehensive about a root canal, you can talk to dentist about an extraction instead. This often involves placing a partial denture, bridge or implant after the extraction to replace the damaged tooth.

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