Endodontics (Root Canal)
‘Root Canal’ is one of the most common yet dreaded endodontic treatments that millions of people undergo every year. Patients generally feel apprehensive to go through this treatment with a presumption that it is a painful process. Though root canal is definitely a lengthy process as it may need more than one visit to the doctor depending on the severity but the modern processes today hardly cause any intolerable pain as assumed by many. In fact, it is an inevitable process when the dental pulp in the tooth gets infected.
What is Root Canal?
A person’s tooth consists of the white enamel and a hard layer called the ‘dentin’ that protects a soft tissue called the ‘pulp’. This pulp mainly assists in the growth of the tooth during the development phase. It has many blood vessels and nerves. The tip of the pulp has the ‘root canal’ that has many tissues connected to the pulp.
Many times, due to tooth decay, fracture, any kind of trauma/accident, or repeated dental procedures on cavities, the pulp gets damaged leading to inflammation and infection within the tooth. This can further result in swelling of the gums, tooth ache or a chronic infection. As an adult tooth can carry on without the pulp unlike a growing tooth, hence it is always advised to remove the infected pulp in order to prevent further complications.
The process to remove the infected pulp by treating the tooth from within is known as ‘Root Canal’. After removing the pulp, the empty space is cleaned and filled and the root canal is sealed. This treatment is an alternative to the extraction of the tooth with damaged pulp that was practiced many years back.
The Process of Root Canal
- Removing the Pulp
The infected pulp is removed through an opening to the pulp chamber from the crown of the tooth or the back of a front tooth. This process is called ‘Pulpectomy’. The chamber and the root canals are then cleaned, shaped and prepared for filling.
- Filling and rebuilding
If more than one visit is required, temporary filling is done on the crown opening till the next visit. The pulp chamber and the root canals are then filled with ‘gutta-percha’ to keep it infection-free.
- Permanent Restoration
Once the filling of chambers and canals is done, the temporary filling is replaced with permanent filling or a crown or cap. Sometimes, to give more support to the crown, a ‘post’ (metallic or plastic support) is also placed besides the gutta-percha.
After the Root Canal
After restoration or the root canal procedure, the tooth starts functioning like any other normal tooth. Besides saving the tooth that otherwise would have been extracted as per traditional treatment, root canal also protects other teeth from excessive wear and tear by preventing extra pressure on those teeth once the damaged teeth is restored. A treated tooth can last lifelong through proper oral hygiene and regular dental check-ups. Hence, root canal is the solution to all problems arising out of infected pulp as it is the only way to save the tooth and remove pain completely.