Home Therapies Root canal treatment: reasons, procedure, risks

Root canal treatment: reasons, procedure, risks

by Josephine Andrews
Published: Last Updated on 323 views

During root canal treatment (tooth root treatment, root canal treatment), the inside of the tooth is removed and filled with sterile material. In this way, a tooth can be preserved if it actually needs to be extracted – for example because the pulp and root of the tooth are severely inflamed or even dead. Read more about root canal treatment here: procedure, duration and possible risks. 

What is root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment is a tooth-preserving therapy when the inside of the tooth (pulp) is either irreversibly inflamed or dead (avital, devital). The tooth is hollowed out and filled with sterile material. This stabilizes it and prevents further bacteria from penetrating . Since the tooth is no longer supplied with blood, it becomes avital and brittle, so that an additional crown is often necessary.

When do you do a root canal treatment?

Pain and inflammation of a tooth due to tooth decay are the most common reasons for root canal treatment. The germs can spread to the pulp, where the nerves and blood vessels run. If the blood vessels dilate as a result of the inflammation, they press on the nerve of the tooth. The tooth hurts badly and is often very sensitive to cold or hot food and drinks. If the bacteria get to the root tip – the innermost part of the tooth – they can spread from here to the bones and soft tissues of the face. In the worst case, the bacteria migrate via the bloodthroughout the body. In such cases or to prevent this, a root canal treatment is carried out if possible. The alternative to root treatment is surgical tooth preservation ( root tip resection ) or tooth extraction.

Root canal treatment is also often performed on broken teeth to prevent inflammation.

Another area of ​​application is dead teeth . In many cases, they can be preserved with the help of root canal treatment.

What is done during a root canal treatment?

Before the actual root canal treatment, the dentist will ask about your symptoms and any previous illnesses. He will examine your teeth and then explain the risks and the process of root canal treatment to you:

First, the affected tooth is anaesthetized because root canal treatment is often painful. However, this is not the case with a dead tooth: Here, the root treatment can be carried out without anesthesia. In most cases, the tooth is then wrapped in a type of rubber bandage called a rubber dam to protect it from blood and saliva .

The doctor carefully drills open the tooth and inserts special measuring needles into the root canals. In combination with an X-ray, he can determine the length of the canals. The doctor then uses small flexible files of different sizes to remove the inflamed or dead pulp. He then rinses the entire root canal system thoroughly and uses a special laser to intensify the disinfection.

Only when the tooth is germ-free does the doctor fill the cleaned and drilled canal system with a root filling. A crown also stabilizes and seals the tooth.

Root canal treatment: duration

Many patients want to know: How long does a root canal treatment take? Dentists cannot give a clear answer to this: the duration of a root treatment depends on the patient, the course of the procedure and any complications. The tooth in question also plays a role: the treatment of a molar tooth usually takes more time than the root treatment of an incisor tooth due to the restricted view and the reduced space. If there is a pronounced infection, it must be treated in several sessions. Special medicinal inserts are intended to additionally kill the bacteria between the procedures.

What are the risks of root canal treatment?

Pain and swelling are common side effects of root canal treatment. There are also other general and specific risks. These include:

  • infections
  • bleeding
  • Injury to muscles, bones and nerves
  • damage to surrounding teeth
  • Loss of the operated tooth
  • opening of the maxillary sinus

In rare cases, the canal system has such strong curvatures or is so branched that the doctor cannot clean it sufficiently. If the tooth becomes inflamed again due to remaining bacteria, this requires a new root treatment: the crown and fillings are then removed, the canals are disinfected again and finally filled again (revision of the root treatment).

The tooth can become dark in color due to various metabolic products or iron deposits from the blood. The discoloration has no pathological value, but can be cosmetically disturbing. Then the dentist can whiten the tooth .

What do I have to consider after a root canal treatment?

As long as the anesthetic is still taking effect, you should not eat or drive. You should also not smoke, drink coffee or black tea for the first 24 hours after the root canal treatment.

The stitches can be removed seven to ten days after the root canal treatment. After three to six months, the healing of the bone should be checked by means of X-rays.

Pain after root canal treatment

What is quite common after root canal treatment is pain. Cooling relieves pain and prevents swelling and bruising. You can find out where the symptoms come from and what you can do about it in the article Pain after root canal treatment.

However, if you feel increasing throbbing pain a few days after the procedure, it may be due to an inflammation that makes it necessary to repeat (revision) the root canal treatment. In this case, go to your doctor as soon as possible.

Root canal treatment: costs

As a rule, the costs for a root canal treatment are covered by health insurance companies if the tooth in question is classified as worthy of preservation. However, this is often not the case with the back molars in particular. Even if special techniques are to be used, you often have to pay for the root canal treatment yourself.

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