Root Canal Treatment

Root canal treatment is used to save or repair a badly infected or decayed tooth. This treatment constitutes the removal of the pulp and nerve, the inner portion of tooth first become cleaned and then sealed, otherwise, the neighboring teeth also can be infected and may develop abscesses. 

In fact, there is an open chamber inside the tooth that holds the nerve and the pulp. The nerve plays its role as long as the tooth grows. Once the tooth matures, the nerve serves no more than creating sensitivities to cold or hot. Removal of this nerve does not normally affect the normal mastication of tooth.

Reasons for removing the nerve and pulp

When a tooth’s pulp or nerve tissue is damaged, bacteria start growing and multiplying in this region and produce harmful debris that causes infection. If the tooth develops pus, it is called abscessed tooth. Such infections in this particular area can lead to first of all swelling which might transfer to the surrounding area such as neck, head and face; secondly, loss of bone just above the tip and corner of tooth; thirdly, creating an extra route of drainage of pus from the root which is very painful situation.

A tooth’s pulp and nerve can become infected, irritated or inflamed due to repeated dental treatments, deeply decayed teeth, cracked and chipped teeth. Followings can be the possible symptoms of root canal:

  • Severe pain during mastication
  • Prolonged sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Discoloration and paleness of the neighboring teeth.
  • Tenderness and swelling in nearby gums
  • A persistent or permanent ulcerative gums

The root canal procedure

A root canal often requires more than one visit to the dentist or endodontist.  In the first step, your dentist or endodontist takes the X-ray of the teeth. This helps the treatment provider to find the troublesome tooth and the outline of the root canal. Anesthesia may be applied to keep the patient relaxed during the treatment. Area can be kept as saliva free and dry by the application of rubber dam all around tooth.

To remove the pulp, damaged nerve, bacteria along with related debris, a hole is normally drilled in the center of the tooth. The access hole is gradually widened to remove the bacteria and debris completely with the help of dental instruments of varying diameters to the complete length of tooth. Sodium hypochlorite or water is sporadically used to wash out the debris. After thorough cleaning of the tooth, efforts are made to seal it. Sometimes dentists wait for a week or so in case of some infection. If the procedure is not intended to be finished on the similar day, an exterior hole is filled with a temporary filling to keep away the contaminants like food particles and saliva.

During the appointment of next day, a compound known as gutta percha and a sealer paste is applied into the interior of the tooth to fill it completely and then it is covered with a restoration or a crown for complete protection.

Post-treatment expectations

When treatment is completed, the tooth may become sensitive for a few days because of the tissue inflammation particularly if there were infection or pain prior the treatment. This pain or discomfort can be controlled with the help of medications like Naproxen and Ibuprofen. It is normally advised to restrict chewing with the treated tooth until the treatment completes. This is because it helps minimizing the risk of recontamination and breaking of a delicate tooth before complete restoration. Also keep brushing and flossing your teeth regularly as usual and visit your dentist at scheduled intervals.

Success rate of Root Canal treatment

This treatment is very successful with more than 95% success. One more favorable thing is that the placement of crown or restoration makes the treated tooth appear natural just like it used to before treatment.


Although dentist do their best while cleaning and sealing a tooth, yet reappearance of infections have been reported in some cases. The possible reasons can be:

Incorrect anticipation of the number of root canals in a tooth

A crack left undetected in the root of the tooth

Inadequate or defective restoration allowing bacteria to enter and contaminate the area

Wear down of internal sealing over time, making possibility of re-entrance of bacteria to contaminate the area

Cost of Root Canal treatment

The cost of the treatment varies depending on the severity of the problem. Not all, but some dental insurance policies tend to cover endodontist treatment. A root cabal treatment cost for an incisor ranges from $350 to $540 and for a molar, it ranges from $520 to $800.  The endodontist may charge a fee up to 50% higher.

Preventive measures

Repeated dental procedures and deep decay are the main reasons for the inflammation and infection of the nerve and pulp of a tooth.  Flossing once a day and brushing twice a day along with regularly visits to your dentist are the simplest ways to keep this problem at arm’s length.


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