What is A Root Canal ? | Everything You Need To Know


The oral cavity, commonly called the mouth, is a kingdom owned by 32 teeth. Each tooth has its functions and importance, occupying its own space in its territory. Each tooth is covered by three layers, namely the pulp, dentin and enamel. The pulp consists of nerves and blood vessels. Few of these nerves gain entry into dentin, thereby making both the dentin and pulp sensitive when exposed (that is when the third layer i.e. the enamel breaks). This third layer which is the enamel, mainly composed of calcium, acts as a protective layer to both enamel and dentin. The enamel has no sensation of its own

Why does a tooth hurt ?


Commonly experienced, sensitivity, is due to the loss of enamel layer and exposure of nerves present in the dentin. Other causes of exposure of dentin may be bacteria, which eat up the enamel and open up the dentin to the outer environment. Reasons for the growth of bacteria include poor oral hygiene and high sugar intake. Chocolates are enjoyed by humans and equally by bacteria. These bacteria grow on sugar, slowly degrade one layer after another and finally reach the pulp.

The pulp, as previously mentioned, comprises of nerves and blood vessels. This supply continues outside the tooth to the surrounding periodontium (which consists of bone, cementum, gingiva and periodontal ligament). So any infection happening to the pulp tends to spread to the surrounding periodontium too. This spread to the surrounding periodontium gets the tooth to a stage where it no more serves its function in the oral cavity and hence needs to be removed. This spread needs to be controlled at the earliest !!!

As per the saying, a stitch in time saves nine; we can avoid extractions of teeth by maintaining good oral hygiene and increasing fibrous intake.

A figure of pulpal tissue

What are the treatment options ?

With the various treatment options available, the dentist can go ahead either with the restoration of the tooth using restorative material (like composites, dental cement, etc.) or with the root canal treatment. When the infection has not reached the pulp, we can go ahead with the restorations. Once the pulp gets infected, the only treatable solution is root canal treatment. 

Root Canal Treatment and Procedure 

The root canal treatment is considered to be the most dreaded and questioned treatment by the patients. However there is no need to fear about this treatment plan, since the root canal treatment only helps in getting the tooth rid of the infection. It mainly involves the removal of infected pulp followed by the cleaning of the canal containing the infected pulpal tissue. After completing the cleaning, the canal is filled with a thermoplastic material. This treatment plan helps in restoring the function and appearance of the tooth

Everything you need to know about root canal treatment

Root canal treatment is a complicated procedure performed by dentists who specialize in this treatment. These specialists are called endodontists.

Some frequently asked questions about root canal treatment are as follows:

1) Is root canal treatment painful?

There is no pain associated with this treatment since the tooth involved is completely anaesthetized with the help of local anaesthesia.

2) What all steps make up the root canal treatment?

The first step involves removal of infected enamel, dentin and pulp. The following step involves cleaning of infected pulpal canal (canal containing pulpal tissue) with medications. Calcium hydroxide dressings are then given if the infection has spread to the surrounding periodontium (explained above). Once all the tissues have healed, the canal is filled with a thermoplastic material to avoid future attack by bacteria on tissues. The root canal treated tooth is then fitted with a dental crown.

3) How long does a root canal take? and how many sittings does it require?

The number of sittings could vary from one to three. The number mainly depends on the amount of infection and the number of sites it has invaded. Lesser the infection, quicker the healing and lesser the sittings. The average time may vary from 15 to 30 minutes per ssession.

4) Should the tooth be removed rather than undergoing a root canal treatment?

We all have been gifted with a set of 32 teeth with the primary purpose of chewing. The loss of a single tooth reduces our chewing efficiency by 10% to 30%. When a choice is available, it is always better to go ahead with saving than sacrificing the tooth.

5) How much does a root canal treatment cost?

The root canal treatment cost varies according to the amount of infection and portion of the tooth involved. Molars are charged the most followed by premolars and incisors. Excessive infection involving the periodontium are also charged heavily. The charges for root canal treatments are more than an extraction (premium charge to save the tooth than to remove it permanently). Generally dental procedures are cheaper in South East Asian countries compared to American or European countries. Affordable pricing is the reason why dental tourism is a flourishing industry in the South East Asian region.


One tooth lost is equal to 30 per cent loss in mastication (which means chewing efficiency) leading to a drop in the overall nutrition to the body. Good oral hygiene is the key to a healthy body, a healthy mind and a healthy soul. So why not maintain good oral health and keep ourselves healthy. And in case of any infection get it treated by visiting an endodontist.

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