Root canal treatment is not as horrible as you think

In order to discuss the complications and causes of root canal treatment, it is important to first know what root canal is.

Root canal

It is the space within the root of the tooth which consists of the pulp chamber, the main canals and the complex anatomical branches.

Human teeth have one to four root canals. This depends on the anatomy of the tooth; molars, for example, have two to four canals, premolars have one to two root canals, and incisors usually have one canal.

Root canal therapy

Root canal therapy or endodontic therapy is the procedure by which the pulp in a tooth is removed from the tooth, leaving it dead. The root canal treatment is done when tooth decay, cracking or any other factor is likely to cause or has caused severe infection to the pulp of the tooth.

The common reasons for root canal treatment

Tooth decay

Tooth decay can be very severe. After damaging the tooth enamel, it can start affecting the inner structures of the tooth and eventually the pulp. When the pulp is infected by the tooth decay, it can cause excruciating pain and throbbing. Removing the pulp from the tooth to relieve the pain is the only option left.

Damaged or chipped tooth

When a tooth becomes damaged, fractured, chipped or broken due to physical trauma, the inner nerves of the tooth become easily exposed which can be very painful for the patient. Since the tooth will not grow back, the pulp can be removed, leaving the tooth at its place but without the feeling of pain.

Age or physical trauma

Sometimes a tooth might be dying slowly. This can be due to old age or physical trauma that did not require an endodontic treatment at the time. In this situation, root canal treatment can be performed as well.

Root canal treatment

It involves a number of procedures. First of all, the tooth in question would be numbed by applying local anesthesia. This would make the root canal treatment painless for the patient. After applying the local anesthesia, the following procedures would be performed:

  1. An x-ray of the tooth would be taken.
  2. A rubber dam would be placed in the mouth so that the area of treatment remains free of saliva and completely dry. This rubber dam is made up of latex or non-latex materials. It also effectively prevents the other chemical solutions used by the dentist during the treatment to enter the mouth.
  3. Tiny files are then used by the dentist to extract the nerve from the tooth. Sometimes, the dentist might require another x-ray to determine the length of the root. The entire nerve and pulp tissue should be removed properly, otherwise, it can cause infection and toothache later that could lead to the tooth extraction or retraction.  
  4. After removing the pulp tissue completely, a filling would be used to fill the space created. Thie filling of gutta-percha would be used. This is a kind of rubber material used widely for sealing the inside of the tooth.
  5. Usually, the dentist also places a dental crown on the particular tooth. This is done because the tooth becomes brittle over time as it lacks blood and nerve supply which can crack the tooth. The dental crown prevents the cracking of the tooth later on.