The mere mention of that expression sends a shiver down your spine and your hair stands on end on your arms. Even a tooth extraction seems more tempting to you! Yet, even though it is feared by the majority, this dental treatment is gentle and usually does not cause pain. His goal ? To allow the teeth affected by an infection of the dental pulp to be preserved (and to end your suffering, of course) despite its death.
Why do we need root canal treatment?
First, a root canal treatment is necessary when a cavity or cracks in the enamel allow bacteria to sneak up to the dental pulp, that is to say the internal part of the tooth. enclosing nerves and blood vessels and ensuring the growth of the tooth when one is young. The latter can then become infected and cause inflammation.
Also, the installation of a post may require root canal treatment if the tooth is too damaged to retain a filling or a crown. It also happens that the dental pulp dies painlessly and without infection, but treatment must still be carried out.
But do not worry ! Even devitalized, your tooth without pulp will still perform its basic functions, namely preserving the jawbone, ensuring the maintenance of the position of the teeth and promoting good chewing. And if you dread root canal treatment, keep in mind that an untreated pulp infection can lead to the formation of a dental abscess – a very painful advanced infection – and have serious consequences for your overall health. .
Why not just extract the tooth?
Nowadays, dentists are of the opinion that it is always better to keep your natural teeth and therefore do everything in their power to preserve them. In addition, opting for root canal treatment allows you to avoid the much more expensive installation of a bridge or an implant.
And where does this famous myth about pain come from?
If you panic at the thought of pain, calm down. The pain too often associated with root canal treatment is now outdated. Thanks to modern local anesthesia, this intervention is no more painful than making a filling. The intervention of the dentist serves to free the patient from his ailments, not to amplify them!
However, in the event of an acute infection, the patient generally “freezes” more difficultly and the pain sometimes persists during the start of treatment. But rest assured, the dentist can then prescribe antibiotics before proceeding with the treatment of the root canal! And if the discomfort still occurs, your dentist will take all necessary measures to eliminate it.
How is a root canal treatment performed?
Contrary to popular belief, a root canal treatment is now usually performed in one or two sessions. The duration of these varies according to the condition of the tooth and its number of canals (roots).
Here is, in summary, the steps followed by a dentist, or an endodontist, during such an intervention:
Place a rubber dam around the tooth to be treated to prevent bacteria in your saliva from coming into contact with it during the procedure;
Make a small opening in the tooth to be treated to access the canal and the damaged pulp;
Using precision instruments, remove the pulp by cleaning and widening the canal;
Fill and seal the channel;
As the tooth that has undergone root canal treatment can become more fragile and prone to breaking, a treatment plan therefore also often includes the placement of a post and a crown to solidify the tooth.
How do I know if I need root canal treatment?
Spontaneous or throbbing pain when you close your mouth; inability to sleep due to toothache; sensitivity to contact with hot and cold; impossible chewing with a specific tooth or darkening of the shade of a tooth following an impact: these are all symptoms indicating a problem with your dental pulp and for which you should consult your dentist.
And even if you don’t feel any of its warning signs, your dentist might also notice the problem during an exam or on an x-ray!