“Root canal” is the term used to describe the natural anatomic cavity within the root of the tooth. Towards the coronal aspect of the tooth, this space is referred to as the pulp chamber.
It is filled with highly vascularized, loose connective tissue called the dental pulp. Its function is to provide nourishment and hydration to the teeth, making it more resilient and resistant to fracture from masticatory stress. Additionally, the dental pulp provides sensory function to hot and cold stimuli.
In earlier times for a decay or trauma involving the pulp, the only treatment option available was to extract (remove) the tooth. But gradually, with advancement in dentistry, root canal treatment was introduced and it has brought smile in the face of patients ever since.
Endodontic therapy or root canal therapy is the treatment for infected pulp of a tooth; it eliminates infection and protects the decontaminated tooth from further microbial invasion and saves it from extraction.
This treatment involves removal of infected pulp tissue, the subsequent shaping, cleaning and decontamination of the hollows with small file like instruments and irrigating solutions, and the obturation (filling) of the decontaminated canals with an inert filling such as gutta-percha.
After post endodontic permanent restoration and crown cementation, the tooth continues to function like any other healthy tooth.
Thus root canal treatment saves the tooth from extraction, also saves the patient from unforeseen complications of retained infected tooth.
- Severe toothache upon chewing or application of pressure
- Prolonged pain/ sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
- Discoloration of the tooth
- Swelling and tenderness in nearby gums
- Pulpal involvement due to caries, trauma etc.
- A persistent or recurring pimple on the gum
How to prevent root canal therapy?
It can be prevented by simple measures:
- Dental decay if detected, should be restored in initial stages itself.
- Decay can be prevented by simple home care measures like use of fluoridated tooth pastes, fluoride mouth rinse, flossing and regular visit to a dentist.
- Children involved in contact sports should wear mouth guard to prevent injury to their teeth.
- Motor bike drivers should wear helmets and car drivers should wear seat belts to prevent injury to teeth.