Got tooth pain?
Strong tooth pain or prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, can sometimes be caused by infection or pulp damage. In some cases a root canal is potentially needed. This treatment is effective and retains as much of the tooth as possible. In other cases more limited intervention treatments can address the issue, without the need for a root canal.
What is Root Canal Treatment?
Root canal treatment requires the removal of the pulp tissues from the tooth when the pulp becomes infected or inflamed.
Under local anaesthetic, an opening is made into the tooth to get access to the pulp chamber. Using small file-like instruments, the root canals are cleaned and prepared to a shape that can be filled. Debris within the canal are removed by flushing with an anti-bacterial solution.
The canals are then filled or sealed with a biocompatible material called gutta-percha with adhesive cement to ensure complete sealing of the canals.
Afterwards, the tooth is either restored with a crown or a filling, depending on how much of the tooth is left. This should be done as soon as possible as there could be a risk of tooth fracture due to biting forces. If the tooth lacks sufficient structure to hold a crown or filling in place, your dentist may place a post inside the tooth.
Ask your dentist for more details about the specific restoration for your tooth. All root canal treatment procedures are done by isolating the tooth with a rubber dam to provide a clean and saliva-free environment. Root canal treatment may be done in single or multiple visits depending on tooth complexity. In between treatment appointments, medicament may be placed within the canals and the tooth is covered with a temporary filling. Often, X-rays are taken to determine the length of the root and to monitor the various treatment stages.
When is Root Canal Treatment Needed?
Generally, a root canal treatment is needed when the pulp is inflamed or infected. The causes of infection and inflammations are due to:
- Deep decay
- An extensive restoration that involves the pulp
- Cracked or fractured tooth due to trauma
- Excessive wear of enamel and dentine exposing the pulp
- Sometimes as a result of severe gum disease
Signs of pulp damage may include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, discolouration of the tooth, swelling, tenderness of the overlying gums or a bad taste in the mouth. On the other hand, there may be no symptoms at all. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can eventually cause pain, swelling and loss of the supporting bone.
Advantages of Root Canal Treatment
Root canal treatment saves teeth that would otherwise have been extracted.
Saving the natural tooth with root canal treatment has many advantages
- Efficient chewing
- Normal biting force and sensation
- Natural appearance
- Protects other teeth from excessive wear
After root canal treatment, a root-canal-treated tooth can function normally and can be maintained with routine dental care and oral hygiene measures.