A root canal is the naturally occurring anatomic space within the root of a tooth. It is a treatment used to repair and save a tooth that is badly decayed or becomes infected.
Background information included in a paper by Iqbal states that success rates for root canal work performed by general dentists run on the order of 65% to 75%. Whereas for specialists, this number lies around 90%.
When do you need root canal?
The doctor may suggest you go through root canal process in the following condition:
- There’s a crack in your tooth
- Multiple dental process on the same tooth
- Deep decay in your untreated cavity
- There’s an injury in your tooth
Root canal procedure
Mentioned below are the following steps for the root canal.
The dentist will place a small amount of numbing medication on your gum near the affected tooth. Once it has taken effect, a local anesthetic will be injected into your gums. You may feel a sharp pinch or a burning sensation, but this will pass quickly. You will remain awake during the procedure, but the anesthetic will keep you from feeling any pain.
Removing the pulp
When your tooth is numb, the endodontist or general dentist will make a small opening on the top of the tooth. Once the infected or damaged pulp is exposed, the specialist will carefully remove it using special tools called files. They will care to clean out all the canals in your tooth.
Once the pulp has been removed, the dentist may coat the area with a topical antibiotic to ensure that the infection is gone and to prevent reinfection. Once the canals are cleaned and disinfected, the dentist will fill and seal the tooth with a sealer paste and rubber-like material called gutta-percha. They may also prescribe you oral antibiotics.
The dentist will end the procedure by filling the small opening in the top of the tooth with a soft, temporary material. This sealant helps prevent the canals from being damaged by saliva.
What to eat after root canal?
You are recommended to eat soft foods after your procedure to avoid irritation and allow your mouth to recover. Here is a list of foods can you can consider.
- Scrambled eggs, yogurt, or a smoothie for a healthy breakfast
- Mashed potatoes, meatloaf, or shredded meat for a filling meal
- Ripe, canned, or cooked fruit as a snack
- Pasta, noodles, quinoa, or couscous provide much-needed substance
- Cooked vegetables on their own, with hummus, or blended into a luke-warm soup
- Saltines, matzah, or soft bread if you want are opting for something easy
- Frozen yogurt or sorbet for a low-fat dessert.
Note: you should avoid eating until numbness from the anesthetic has completely disappeared so that you don’t accidentally bite an area that hasn’t yet regained sensation.
Root canal treatment side effects
The side effects of root canals include:
- Pain – Root canal treatment involves the disinfection of the root canal and the removal of all the pulp from the canal chambers. The pulp is found at the center of the tooth in the canals and is full of nerve endings. This is why one of the side effects of getting root canal treatment may be a bit of pain for a few days.
- Swelling – Any long-standing infection that can be seen with a dead tooth may flare up when irritated by mechanical cleaning or the chemicals used during the root canal treatment. This can instigate a reaction in the body during which a swelling may appear for a short duration of time.
- Tooth fracture – The only long-term side effect of getting root canal treatment done has to do with the increased brittleness of the treated tooth. The procedure for performing the root canal also involves a lot of removal of the tooth structure. This means that by the time the root canal treatment has been completed, the tooth that has been treated is much more prone to fracture than when it began.
- Change in tooth color – A root canal-treated tooth can become progressively darker over the years. This is usually not a problem because the tooth is covered with an artificial cap but in some cases where the need for a cap was not felt, the color change can be a problem.
Do root canals cause health problems?
A study tested the effectiveness of root canal cleaning procedures and found endotoxins and pathogenic bacteria in 100% of root canals. The cleaning procedures can clear up to 44% of these bacteria, but the bacteria always persist. Hence, this could lead to long-term problems, including serious ones. Therefore, there are five ways that a root canal can lead to problems, including:
- Infection inside or outside of the root canals
- Extruded root canal filling causing an immune response
- Accumulation of cholesterol crystals that irritate the tissues
- Cystic lesion where the root canal is done
- Scar tissue healing of the root canal site