Articles - Root Canal Therapy

  • Root Canal Therapy

    Root Canal Therapy

    Root canal therapy is needed when the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection.  In order to save the tooth, the pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth), nerves, bacteria, and any decay are removed and the resulting space is filled with special, medicated, dental materials, which restore the tooth to its full function.

    Having a root canal treatment done on a tooth is the treatment of choice to save a tooth that otherwise would die and need to be removed.  Many patients believe that removing a tooth that has problems is the solution, but what is not realised is that extracting (pulling) a tooth will ultimately be more costly and cause significant problems for adjacent teeth.

    Root canal treatment is highly successful and usually lasts a lifetime, although on occasion, a tooth will have to be retreated due to new infections.

    Root filled teeth are highly successful but not 100% of the time. Reasons RCT may not work permanently usually involve fractures in the root (which cannot be adequately sealed) or difficulties in cleaning out the entire nerve system such as sharp bends or multiple canals.

    Signs and symptoms for possible root canal therapy:

    • An abscess (or pimple) on the gums.
    • Sensitivity to hot and cold.
    • Severe toothache pain.
    • Swelling and/or tenderness
    • Sometimes no symptoms are present.

    Reasons for root canal therapy:

    • Decay has reached the tooth pulp (the living tissue inside the tooth).
    • Infection or abscess have developed inside the tooth or at the root tip.
    • Injury or trauma to the tooth.
    • Persistent hypersensitivity

    What does root canal therapy involve?

    A root canal procedure requires at least one, but usually more, appointments and can be performed by a dentist or endodontist (a root canal specialist).

    An access opening is made on top of the tooth and a series of root canal files are placed into the opening, one at a time, removing the pulp, nerve tissue, and bacteria.  If tooth decay is present, it will also be removed with special dental instruments.

    The nerve tissue is removed and the tooth is thoroughly cleaned and dressed. If additional appointments are needed, a temporary filling will be placed. The roots and the inside cavity of the tooth will be filled and sealed with special dental materials.  A filling will be placed to cover the opening on top of the tooth.  In addition, all teeth that have root canal treatment should ideally have a crown (cap) placed.  This will protect the tooth and prevent it from breaking, and restore it to its full function.

     

    After treatment, your tooth may still be sensitive, but this will subside as the inflammation diminishes and the tooth has healed.

    Good oral hygiene practices and regular dental visits will aid in the life of your root canal treatment.