Root canal treatment is a procedure performed to save a damaged pulp (nerve and blood vessels inside the tooth) that cannot be repaired due to decay or trauma, in order to keep the tooth healthy in the mouth without extraction.

If the damaged or infected pulp is not removed, it can cause infection in the tooth and surrounding tissues. If the inflammation in the pulp is limited to the canal, the tooth may remain alive during the treatment. However, if the inflammation involves the root tip, the tooth has likely lost its vitality. The success rate of root canal treatment in vital teeth is reported to be higher than in infected teeth.

Before root canal treatment, the affected tooth is numbed with local anesthesia. This not only relieves the patient’s existing pain, but also ensures that they do not feel any pain during the treatment.

After the tooth is numbed, the pulp is removed with canal instruments, the canals are shaped to an appropriate form, washed, dried, and filled with a root canal filling material to complete the treatment. Root canal treatment in vital teeth is usually completed in a single session.

However, in infected teeth and in cases of repeated root canal treatments, the treatment can take 2-3 sessions depending on the condition of the tooth. After cleaning and shaping the root canals in the first session, an antiseptic material is placed inside the tooth for dressing. If the patient’s symptoms have disappeared and no new ones have developed in the next session, the root canal treatment is completed.

The patient is advised not to chew until the effect of the local anesthesia has worn off, as they may accidentally bite their tongue or lip due to numbness.

There may be some pain when biting on the tooth for a few days after the treatment, which is normal. Patients usually do not need to take antibiotics before or during root canal treatment. However, if there is swelling, throbbing pain, or pain upon contact, the patient should consult their dentist.

In teeth with root tip inflammation, acute flare-ups characterized by swelling and pain in the surrounding tissues may occur between the two sessions. In such cases, the patient may need to take an antibiotic prescribed by their dentist.

After root canal treatment, it is important to seal the tooth with a leak-proof restoration to ensure its long-term survival in the mouth. Therefore, the restoration should be completed without delay after the root canal treatment.

If the tooth has significant substance loss, it may require a crown. During this process, the patient should avoid chewing hard foods to prevent the tooth from breaking.

A tooth that has been successfully treated with root canal and restored with an appropriate restoration can survive in the mouth like other healthy teeth. However, it should be remembered that the tooth treated with root canal is more fragile and can decay again like any other tooth. Therefore, it is important for the patient to visit their dentist every 6 months after the treatment for check-ups.