Root canal therapy treats the inside of a tooth, called the nerve by many, but more accurately described as tooth pulp. Besides nerves, there are also arteries, veins, lymph vessels and connective tissue included in the tooth pulp.
Tooth decay can cause infection inside the tooth, which can then cause the tooth pulp to die, after which the tooth will fall out. It’s also possible that germs can enter the tooth pulp and cause an infection in the root tip and jaw bone, leading to an abscess, which can go on to damage bone around the teeth. A root canal removes the infected tooth pulp while saving the tooth.
It could take up to three visits to complete a root canal; however, the procedure is not as unpleasant as most people think. An endodontist, a dentist specializing in problems of the tooth pulp, removes the diseased tooth pulp. The entire area is then cleaned and sealed. Medications may be put inside the pulp chamber to get rid of germs and prevent infection. During the last stage, a crown is usually placed over the tooth.
Most people describe root canal as being very painful and with a long recovery; however, the reality is that the recovery time is quite short and is eased with painkillers. You will experience pain and swelling for a few days after root canal surgery, but your dentist will provide you with medication to counter the pain and ensure there is no infection.
It may be a few weeks before you are completely back to normal and eating all your usual foods. The restored tooth could last a lifetime as long as you take care of it.