Root canal treatment is a procedure that is used to remove the infected tissues from the roots of the tooth. This procedure helps in preventing and treating an infection in the teeth. Root canal treatments are recommended for patients who have severe tooth pain, especially those who experience early morning pain and whose pain persists after taking medication or having their teeth cleaned by a dental professional.
A typical root canal treatment lasts an hour or two and can be done on an outpatient basis with local anaesthesia and sedation or using general anaesthesia in a hospital operating room with monitoring equipment, such as an electrocardiogram machine. Although various methods of treatment have been used for many years to achieve successful results, the most used method today is the “filling” approach.
During the filling technique, an internal instrument is inserted through the crown of the tooth and into the pulp chamber. The dentist then advances a small plastic or metal tube called a “curette” behind the infected tissue to clean it and shape it. If any teeth were removed, they are replaced, and permanent fillings are placed in the tooth. A root canal treatment can provide relief from pain for many years if successful.
However, it is not without risk. There is a possibility that the infected tooth or teeth could become infected again. If the canal filling is not properly created, it cannot be removed, and the tooth will have to have a root canal treatment again. Sometimes, bacteria can enter the inside of the tooth and cause an infection in the jawbone. Patients who are taking antibiotics should avoid root canal treatments for two to four weeks before starting treatment for their new bacterial infection. If a root canal treatment fails, there are two options. The first option is to remove the infected tooth and allow it to heal in place. If the tooth feels like it is going to fall out, it should be removed immediately. The second option is to perform a crown procedure instead of a root canal treatment. During this procedure, most of the tooth is removed and replaced with a crown that has an abscess cavity for the infected tooth. The patient’s existing teeth can be used for the crown.
The root canal treatment was developed to help the dental profession manage the number of root canal treatments needed to remove infected teeth. In the past, it was common practice to remove an entire tooth when it became infected. If only one or two teeth were removed, a root canal treatment would be needed and all the other teeth in the mouth would be at risk of becoming infected.