Root Canal Therapy
Root canal therapy is aimed at treating an infected tooth with a dead or dying nerve. A pulp or nerve may become infected due to tooth decay, a crack, chip, excessive fillings or trauma. All of these scenarios allow bacteria to enter the inner pulp causing infection.
In order to save the tooth, it involves drilling a hole into the tooth and removing the soft centre, known as the dental pulp. The pulp is made up of connective tissue, nerves and blood supply, and extends into the roots of the tooth. After the pulp is removed, the space is filled and sealed.
Saving your own tooth if possible is important. It works better than an artificial tooth for biting and chewing. Losing a tooth can lead to other problems in the mouth. Replacing a lost tooth with an artificial one often needs more complex dental procedures. Root canal treatment is often the best way of saving a tooth.
What are the signs you may need root canal treatment?
Sometimes there are no symptoms that a tooth needs root canal treatment. More commonly, the signs include:
• severe toothache when biting or chewing
• sensitivity to hot or cold that lasts after the heat or cold has been removed
• darkening of the tooth
• swollen and tender gums
• pus around an infected tooth
• swelling of the face or neck
• a loose tooth
Root canal therapy is sometimes performed over two appointments.
Step 1: An X-ray is taken to assess the severity of the case and the individual shape of the canals.
Step 2: A rubber dam is placed over the damaged tooth to isolate it from saliva and bacteria. From here your dentist will create a small opening in the tooth to access the pulp. All pulp tissue is removed through this opening. Water and an antibacterial flush are used to ensure no trace of bacteria is left inside the tooth. After the tooth is thoroughly cleaned, the canal and small opening are sealed with a temporary filling.
Step 3: At the second appointment, a permanent sealing is used to fill the canal and access hole and a filling is placed.
After a root canal treatment, the structural integrity of your tooth has been weakened. This is why it’s necessary, especially for your back teeth, to have a dental crown placed on the treated tooth.