Root Canal Treatment
The aim of root canal treatment is to save a tooth that has been badly damaged due to decay, disease or injury.
In a healthy tooth, the pulp is the soft tissue inside a tooth. The pulp contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue. It exists in a canal that extends from the tooth crown to the tip of each root. The pulp is important for normal growth, development and health of the tooth.
Infection or inflammation
Infection and Inflammation of the pulp can be caused by a breakdown of an extensively filled tooth, a deep decayed cavity, trauma, gum disease, a crack or chip in the tooth and by extreme wear.
Symptoms of an inflamed or infected pulp may include pain, sensitivity to heat or cold, tooth discolouration and swelling or soreness in the gums surrounding the tooth.
Saving the tooth
To save the tooth root canal treatment is needed when the pulp becomes severely inflamed or infected. This should be started as soon as possible to improve the chances of success in eliminating pain and infection. A fully developed tooth can function normally without a pulp if root canal treatment has been successful. However, if the pulp is not treated quickly, severe pain and abscesses can occur. If an abscess (infection at end of the roots) is left untreated, an infection can damage the bone surrounding the root. Then if the tooth does not have endodontic treatment, it will have to be removed.
Treatment will be fully explained (please view below video as an example of treatment).
Initial treatment involved includes:
- Examination of the tooth and an X-ray is taken
- Local anaesthesia and use of rubber dam to isolate the tooth
- To reach the pulp, an opening through the tooth is made with a dental drill
- Each root canal is cleaned, enlarged and shaped with manual and rotary files
- Further X-rays are usually required
anti-inflammatory and antibacterial medicines may be put inside the root canal to help stop the inflammation and infection. If a severe abscess has formed at the root tip, oral antibiotics may be needed to treat the infection. Pain is relieved by taking ibuprofen and paracetamol.
Final treatment involves sealing the canals with Gutta Percha (please view below video as an example).
As the jaw bone surrounding the treated tooth takes time to heal completely, follow-up visits may be needed to confirm satisfactory healing. After the pulp has been removed, the tooth is not “dead”. The tooth can survive without the pulp because it is nourished mostly by tissues around it.
Fitting an artificial CROWN, as an endodontically treated tooth may have a higher risk of a fracture without the protection of an artificial crown, one should be fitted soon after treatment. The crown is made of porcelain and is needed to:
- Protect, strengthen and further seal the tooth
- Restore normal function and occlusion
- Restore an acceptable cosmetic appearance
Possible complications of root canal treatment will be explained and include loss of tooth, infection, discolouration, pain or discomfort, weakness, non-healing and re-treatment.