The perceived goal of root canal treatment is the saving of a tooth damaged by decay, tooth fracture or disease.
Many teeth are spared extraction every year by root canal treatment.
It is advantageous to save the original tooth due to the fact that it is stronger, functions better (e.g. for chewing and biting) and is far easier to maintain and clean than an artificial tooth (excluding an implant) . Problems associated with the removal/or loss of a tooth are the shifting of teeth, moving to compensate for the gap left by the tooth. This can lead to gum disease and even more decay. Provided you take good care of the treated tooth, it could last you for years. In most cases over 90% these teeth function like normal teeth. In less than 5% of the time complications may develop like fracture of the brittle root filled tooth, inaccessible/calcified canals, persistent infection, file separation etc.
The soft tissue within the tooth, otherwise known as pulp contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissues. This is important for the health, growth and development of a tooth. However a fully matured tooth can survive without pulp if root canal treatment is a success.
The need for root canal treatment arises when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected. This can be caused by:
- – gum disease
- – extreme wear
- – a deep cavity
- – dental work done repeatedly on one tooth
- – a crack or chip in the tooth
- – the breakdown of a filling or crown
- Sensitivity (possibly to hot or cold)
- Swelling or soreness in the gums surrounding the tooth
The dentist will examine the infected tooth and take an x-ray of it. In accordance with your preference you will be given a local anaesthetic (or not).
To reach the infected part of the tooth a hole will need to be drilled down to it, using files the dentist will extract the bad pulp. All root canals (in the infected tooth) are then cleaned and antibacterial cream or antibiotic cream is put inside, depending on the severity of the infection, oral antibiotics may be needed to clean up the infection. It should also be noted that the severity also affects the number of visits needed to complete the treatment.
Some patients feel pain afterward but that disappears within a few days, if needed you may take pain killers –ponstan, paracetamol, aspirin, ibuprofen…
Completion of Root Canal Treatment
The root canals of the tooth are filled on completion of treatment to prevent further infection and protect the tooth.
If there is not enough original tooth structure left a post may be inserted to help support a crown. The crown decreases the risk of fracture which is higher in a treated tooth.
Regular check-ups are needed to check that the tooth and surrounding bone and gum are healing properly, to help this process you should maintain a good hygiene practice with regular brushing and flossing.