What is a Root Canal Treatment?
Root canal treatment (also called endodontics) tackles the infection that can occur at the centre of a tooth (the root canal system). The crown of the tooth is made up of the hard, white, enamel layer and a thicker dentine layer. Both these hard layers protect the innermost soft tissues of the tooth called the pulp. The dental pulp contains blood vessels and nerves within and extends from the crown to the tips of the root or roots.
During treatment, all the infection is removed from inside the root canal system. The root canal is filled and the tooth is sealed with a filling or crown to stop it from becoming infected again.
When Is Root Canal Treatment Needed?
Root canal treatment involves the removal of the infected pulp tissues from the tooth.
The pulp can be infected or inflamed due to either deep decay or an extensive restoration that involves the pulp, cracked or fractured tooth due to trauma, excessive wear of enamel and dentine exposing the pulp, and sometimes as a result of severe gum disease.
Signs of pulp damage may include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, discoloration of the tooth, swelling, tenderness of the overlying gums or a bad taste in the mouth. There also may be no symptoms at all.
What Are The Advantages Of Root Canal Treatment?
Root canal treatment saves teeth that would otherwise have been extracted.
After root canal treatment the tooth has no vital tissue, but there are vital tissues surrounding the root e.g. the gum, periodontal membrane and supporting bone. A root canal treated tooth can function normally and can be maintained with routine dental care and oral hygiene measures.
Is Root Canal Treatment Painful?
Root canal treatment procedures are relatively comfortable and often painless as the tooth is anaesthetised during treatment. After treatment, the tooth may be sensitive or tender for a few days due to inflammation of the surrounding tissues.
How Is Root Canal Treatment Carried Out?
Under local anaesthetic an opening is made in the crown of the tooth to get access to the infected or inflamed pulp within and using small, specially designed tools, the root canals are cleaned. Debris is removed by flushing with an anti-bacterial solution.
The canals are then filled and sealed. The tooth is then restored to full shape and function by either a permanent filling or a crown.
Care Of The Root-Treated Tooth
After treatment it is advised to avoid chewing or biting on the tooth being treated until it is permanently restored with either a filling or a crown. Most endodontically treated teeth last as long as natural teeth following permanent restoration.
Practice good oral hygiene, including brushing and flossing regularly, as root-filled teeth are as prone to decay as natural teeth. It is also important to have your treated tooth reviewed regularly by your dentist.
If you are experiencing any pain, inflammation or sensitivity please contact us to discuss the situation – if in doubt, get it checked out – we are happy to help.