Years ago, a badly infected, painful tooth, or one that had significant decay, was doomed to be extracted. Today, a majority of these teeth can be salvaged by a special dental procedure called Root Canal Therapy.
A Root Canal Treatment is needed when a tooth’s nerve and associated blood vessels are irreversibly damaged. For example :
- Tooth damaged by trauma.
- A fractured tooth.
- Deep cavity that has infected the nerve.
The end result is the same – an infection that leads to an abscess at the base of the tooth.
Signs and Symptoms
- Throbbing pain in the tooth (especially noticeable when lying horizontal, i.e. in bed at night).
- There may also be a swelling in your jaw.
- The tooth may be painful to chew on.
- Pain on consuming hot and/or cold foods.
- Teeth that are severely worn out.
Your tooth can usually be saved at this time.
A Dentist can save a tooth by removing the diseased nerve tissue, cleaning and then filling the nerve chamber. A root canal is a relatively simple procedure with little or no discomfort involving one to four or more visits. Best of all, it can save your tooth and your smile. The treated tooth usually can function like a normal tooth after Root Canal Therapy.
Extraction is truly the last resort.
Your Dentist Can Help : Healthy Adult Tooth
Your Dentist can assess the extent of damage by a comprehensive dental examination. Your Dentist takes a dental history, examines your teeth and gums, and x-rays your teeth. X-rays allow your Dentist to see the inside of your teeth and the surrounding bone.
Understanding your teeth may help take the mystery out of Root Canal Therapy for you.
Bacteria can invade your tooth through a loose filling, a cavity or a crack. Your pulp becomes infected as it is attacked by bacteria. Eventually, the bacteria may destroy the pulp. At this stage there may or may not be any symptoms. A Root Canal Treatment would usually save this tooth.
If left untreated, the infection may even spread to your bone (abscess).
Why do I need Root Canal Treatment ?
Without treatment, infection will spread, bone around the tooth will degenerate and the tooth may fall out. Pain usually increases until one is forced to seek emergency dental attention. The only alternative now is usually extraction of the tooth, which can cause surrounding teeth to shift and weaken. Though an extraction is cheaper, an implant or a bridge to replace the tooth can be more expensive than Root Canal Therapy. If you have a choice, it is always advisable to keep your original teeth. However, there are limitations, and at times a Root Canal Therapy might not be possible. Allow your Dentist to decide.
What is involved in Root Canal Therapy ?
Your treatment may take one or more visits, where the nerve of the offending tooth is removed and the root canal is subsequently filled. You may receive local anaesthesia. Your Dentist may take x- rays to ensure that the full length of your root canal is treated. If your roots are unusually shaped or there are other complications, you may need to have apical surgery (Apicoectomy) as advised by your Dentist.
Step 1: The tooth is anaesthetized and an opening is made through the crown into the pulp chamber.
Step 2 : The length of the root canals is determined. Unhealthy pulp is removed. The canals are cleaned, enlarged and shaped with special root canal files and disinfecting solutions.
Step 3 : Once the tooth is free of infection, the tooth is filled with a special Root Canal Filling material like gutta percha and sealed with a temporary filling.
Step 4 : A post and core may be added for structural support. Usually a metal or porcelain crown is made for the tooth to provide further protection.
Do children require Root Canal Therapy ?
Yes. Very often milk and permanent teeth in children may require Root Canal Therapy, though the procedure varies slightly in milk teeth.
What happens after Treatment ?
After the inside of your tooth has been treated, the outside will be restored to protect your tooth’s underlying structures and give your tooth a healthy appearance. After Root Canal Therapy your tooth should function and feel like your other teeth. Take care of your treated tooth the same way you would your other teeth. Brush and floss regularly. It is advisable to visit your Dentist regularly for preventive check-ups. Your Dentist is trained to see hidden problems that you cannot.