What is a root canal and when is it necessary?

Root Canal

It is possible that in a routine review with your dentist, they inform you that you need a root canal.

A priori, you may not know exactly what this procedure consists of or that you feel some qualms about the idea of ​​undergoing it. It is a procedure encompassed within Conservative Dentistry and, in a popular way, it is known as a procedure designed to “kill the nerve”.

It is precisely this way of referring to the procedure that causes fright or rejection. However, it is a treatment that does not generate any discomfort, is performed in a minimally invasive way, and has numerous benefits for your oral health.

For you to go to your dentist with complete confidence, it is best to know how endodontics is performed and when it is necessary.

When do you need a root canal?

The endodontic, or root canal, aims to keep a tooth in the mouth, if untreated, would have to be extracted.

Therefore, it is the last resort to save a diseased tooth and prevent the patient from having to place a prosthesis or implant to replace it.

It is carried out when the tooth structure has irreversible damage and the pulp is seriously affected. Also called a nerve, the pulp is the soft tissue that houses nerves and blood vessels.

It is covered by dentin and enamel and is in charge of receiving external stimuli. When the pulp is damaged, we say that the tooth is devitalized and in most cases, the tooth ends in necrosis and presenting a dark color.

Endodontics: How is it done?

How can you tell if a tooth has internal damage?

The deterioration of the dental nerve can manifest itself in different ways. Among the most prominent symptoms, we can distinguish the following:

  • Chewing discomfort, both in terms of pain and tooth sensitivity.
  • The darkening of the tone of a particular tooth.
  • The perception of a bad taste in the mouth caused by the infectious process.
  • The appearance of a fistula or phlegmon.

Root Canal

This damage can be motivated by two main reasons :

Due to a cavity that has not been treated in time and the infection reaches the dental pulp.
When the tooth has received a strong blow and, broken or not, the tooth is devitalized.

It is important to clarify that, although a trauma does not fracture the tooth, we must go to the dentist to assess whether there is internal damage.

If an impact occurs, the nerve is likely to suffer and our tooth will be calcified.

This state also supposes the devitalization of the piece, but without becoming necrotic.

What is a root canal?

The objective of root canal treatment is the elimination of the neurovascular bundle, that is, of the pulp tissue or nerve.

Afterward, the tooth canals are cleaned and sealed to avoid the involvement of a new infectious process in the future. Finally, the affected piece is reconstructed through the method that the dentist considers appropriate for each case.

A crown or cap can be placed, but if there is no significant loss of structure, a choice can be made between reconstruction or inlay.

How many canals do the teeth have?

In the mouth, we have different teeth, each with its name, characteristics, and functions. According to each type, the tooth has one or more canals:

The incisors and canines have a single canal.

If we talk about the premolars, we find two.

The molars or molars are the pieces with the most canals: a total of three.

Does the root canal hurt?

Endodontics is a treatment that is carried out under the effects of local dental anesthesia in one or two sessions, depending on the complexity of the case.

That is why the process is completely painless and the patient does not feel any discomfort.

For its part, the postoperative period is very simple and only involves a slight inflammation of the dental tissues.

To avoid any inconvenience, the dentist prescribes the intake of painkillers for 2 or 4 days so that the patient can lead a normal life.

Dental Care to follow

As we said, you may notice some inflammation in the days after the intervention. Although they are alleviated with the intake of drugs recommended by your dentist. We want to give you some tips that positively influence the success of endodontics.

Remember that the effects of anesthesia do not go away immediately. Therefore, in the hours following the procedure, be careful not to bite your tongue, the inside of your cheeks, or your lips.

Before placing the final restoration – be it a crown or an inlay – the dentist will place a temporary filling. During the first, pay special attention not to chew on that side of the mouth and avoid foods that are difficult to chew or sticky.

As for oral hygiene routines, you can brush your teeth normally, but put special emphasis on the endodontic area.

Follow the recommendations of your specialist and take the painkillers for the time indicated.


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