Root Canal Treatment (Endodontics)
The words “Root Canal Treatment” can send a shiver down the spine of many a dental patient, but the reality is that it should be a pain free and relatively comfortable experience. We have even had several patients falling asleep whilst we work – probably the best way to pass the time.
WHY IS ROOT CANAL TREATMENT NEEDED?
Root Canal Treatment is necessary when a tooth becomes infected. The pulp tissue deteriorates and this in turn can form an abscess. Intervention by your dentist depends on the symptoms that you are experiencing.
The reasons for a pulp (nerve and blood vessels) of the tooth deteriorating are usually due to infection through decay or a history of a knock (trauma) to the tooth. It can be many years before a tooth shows signs of internal damage following trauma.
The alternative treatment when a tooth needs root canal treatment is an extraction. It is wise to maintain as many teeth as possible for as long as possible.
The symptoms can vary from pain when taking hot liquid, pain that occurs for no apparent reason or a dull throbbing pain. At this stage the nerve of the tooth may be damaged beyond repair. If these symptoms do not occur or are ignored because they are short lived, then the nerve in the tooth may die and form pus. This is an abscess and it is very painful. The tooth may be tender to touch or bite on, but in severe cases there may be a swelling of your face. This is a dental emergency and it is vital to contact your dentist. Sometimes an abscess can create a little drainage valve on the gum which means that there is no pain. This is another sign that your dentist will look for at an examination.
WHAT DOES IT INVOLVE?
The aim of root canal treatment is to remove the infected pulp and shape the root canals of the tooth to allow thorough cleaning and filling. This usually prevents more pain and allows the tooth to be kept.
Treatment will be usually take over 2 visits although every situation is different. If 2 or more visits are necessary then a temporary filling shall be placed.
Once the tooth is satisfactorily cleaned and pain free, the root canal filling can be placed. X-rays are taken before and after root treatment to guide the dentist in the shape of the canals and to check the root filling.
The root treated tooth is weaker and may need to be crowned or protected with an onlay restoration to prevent it from breaking in the future.
Some teeth darken following root treatment – these can be treated by bleaching, crowns or veneers.