Root canal treatment is a procedure used by endodontists and emergency dentists to remove any infection from the inner dental pulp that is causing tooth damage and pain.
If left untreated tooth and/or gum infections become a dental emergency where urgent care is needed to alleviate painful symptoms, eliminate infection and prevent the further spread of infection through the root canals.
The most common cause of pulp damage is severe decay or a fracture that exposes the pulp to bacteria that may cause infection. Other causes of pulp damage include traumatic injury such as a blow to the mouth, a cracked or loose filling, or repeated fillings in a tooth and occasionally periodontal disease.
Common initial symptoms of damaged pulp include teeth feeling sensitive, particularly with changes in temperature. As it progresses, the tooth enamel may erode or wear and the gum tissue will become irritated and inflamed. If not treated the trauma accumulates and becomes a risk to oral and overall health.
Dentists encourage individuals to attend dental check-ups to assess their oral health for signs of plaque and tartar build-up, enamel wear and gum inflammation or infection. Contacting a dentist immediately when oral discomfort is experienced allows the condition to be assessed for proper dental care.
Early intervention and the treatment of tooth decay, gum inflammation, infection and disease help individuals receive the dental care they need for healthy teeth and gums. Having teeth professionally cleaned, scaled and polished regularly, removes plaque and tartar build-up in difficult to reach places you can’t reach through home teeth cleaning alone.
Dentists provide fillings and teeth restorations as needed, to fill cavities and restore damaged teeth to prevent infection. Leaving damaged teeth and cavities untreated may lead to emergency root canal treatment to remove the infected dental pulp. In some cases, gum disease can set in causing tooth loss.
The dentist will first discuss the steps of the treatment process, costs and aftercare.
Patients are then given a local anaesthetic for pain-free treatment after consenting to the procedure.
During the treatment the dentist gently drills a hole through the enamel of the tooth to access the infected dental pulp. Using dental instruments the infection is removed from the root canal. To ensure that the infection is entirely eliminated more than one dental appointment may be required.
The dental pulp contains nerves and blood vessels for healthy tooth structure. Once infected tooth pulp is removed it is replaced with gutta percha to restore the inner form and function. Gutta percha dental material seals the pulp cavity to prevent re-infection. In some cases, a dental restoration such as a dental crown may be needed to cover the treated tooth.
Prevention is always far easier than having to treat a severe tooth and gum infection that may have irreversible complications, such as tooth loss. Taking proper care of teeth and gums by maintaining good oral hygiene and attending regular dental appointments are the best ways to prevent the need for root canal treatment.
Good oral hygiene regimes include proper brushing with fluoride toothpaste after meals and before sleep. Flossing teeth daily after meals is also recommended to remove excess food debris. Using a fluoride mouthwash to rinse gets rid of debris and refreshes the mouth.
Having teeth professionally scaled and polished removes excess plaque and tartar. Use of fluoride products keeps oral bacteria at bay.
Following a healthy balanced diet and avoiding high acidic and sugary foods helps prevent erosion of tooth enamel that may expose dental pulp to infection. Not smoking keeps the teeth clean and free of tobacco stains. Tobacco chewing and smoking raises the risk of oral and lung cancer, discolours teeth and causes bad breath.
Moderating alcohol intake also ensures that liver function remains normal and reduces the threat of oral cancer.
Alcohol is frequently stated in research as a contributing factor to developing cancers, such as mouth cancer.
Strong, healthy teeth are vital in our day to day life. They help us speak and allow us to chew food properly for good health. When we suffer from oral infection, our overall well-being suffers. Dental procedures such as root canal treatment, restore and enhance oral health.
The expense of an endodontic procedure varies depending on how severe the problem is and the type of tooth. Molars with three or four canals are more difficult to treat and the fee will therefore be more. Endodontic treatment is usually more economical in the long term than any other alternative treatment.
With the use of modern techniques, root canal treatment typically involves little or no discomfort. A local anesthetic is used and it should feel no different to having an ordinary filling done. Often there is pain before treatment and endodontic treatment provides relief.
Cleaning the root canals may cause some slight tenderness for a few days but usually over-the-counter painkillers alleviate the discomfort. If pain persists or if you experience severe pain or swelling, contact the surgery.
Often endodontic treatment is completed in one or two appointments but in complicated cases more visits may be necessary.
Occasionally a tooth cannot be saved. Endodontic treatment can be performed only if the root canals are accessible and can be adequately cleaned and sealed. There must be enough structure remaining to allow the tooth to be properly restored and the tooth must also have sufficient bone support. We can only carry out treatment where there is a good long-term outlook.
Endodontic treatment can have a success rate of up to 90% if carried out properly, allowing the tooth to remain functional. Problems can occur if the tooth develops decay, the restoration on the tooth fails, or when, despite good care, the tooth does not heal as expected. Further endodontic treatment or surgery may be carried out if appropriate. A tooth that develops a crack can also be a cause of failure and may result in loss of the tooth.