Has your dentist at GriDent told you that you need root canal treatment? If so, we will do our job and won’t let you alone. Hundreds of teeth are treated and saved each year in our clinic with root canal, or endodontic, treatment. Learn how root canal treatment can relieve your tooth pain and save your smile.
Why is root canal treatment needed?
In the middle of each tooth there’s a core of blood vessels and nerves called pulp. The pulp sits inside a space called the root canal. If the pulp becomes infected, the infection may spread through the root canal system of the tooth. This may eventually lead to an abscess. An abscess is an inflamed area in which pus collects and can cause swelling of the tissues around the tooth. The symptoms of an abscess can range from a dull ache to severe pain and the tooth may be tender when you bite and can cause swelling around your tooth and jaw.
Sometimes your tooth may look darker in colour than your other teeth, which means that the nerve inside your tooth is dead or dying. Without treatment the infection may spread further into your jawbone and you may need to have the tooth taken out.
How beguns an infection?
The pulp is made up of soft tissue that includes nerves and blood vessels. If bacteria infect the pulp, it will begin to die. After this, the bacteria can increase in number. The bacteria and the substances they release will eventually pass out of the end of the root canal through the small hole where the blood vessels and nerves enter.
This process continues as there is nothing to stop more bacteria passing down the root canal, which causes the tissues around the end of the tooth to become red and swollen. This can cause your tooth to become painful and, in extreme circumstances, your face may become swollen (dental abscess).
The root canal treatment
To treat the infection in the root canal, the bacteria need to be removed. This can be done by:
- removing the tooth (extraction)
- attempting to save the tooth by removing the bacteria from the root canal system (root canal treatment)
In root canal treatment, once the bacteria are removed, the root canal is filled and the tooth is sealed with a filling or crown. In most cases, the inflamed tissue at the end of the tooth will heal naturally.
Root canal treatment should not be painful because a local anaesthetic is normally given, it should be no more unpleasant than having a filling. The procedure is usually successful
Treatment Steps at GriDent
- After the anesthesia if needed, an opening is made through the crown of the tooth to the pulp chamber. Then the root canals have to be measured.
- X-rays are used to determine the length of the canals. A file will be placed into the canal that is measured. Then an X-ray will be taken to determine how close the file is to the end of the canal.
- The infection is cleaned by using specially designed instruments. Then enlargement of the canal is done by the use of files accompanied by irrigation with an antiseptic solution. Then the canal is dried.
- For root canal treatment to be effective, all of the main canals and the lateral canals within the tooth must be cleaned. Generally, the top front teeth have one canal, the bottom front teeth one or two canals, the premolars one or two, and the molars three or four canals. However, the location and shape of these canals can vary significantly.
- Nd: YAG laser is used for disinfection for both the main canal and the lateral canals that the irrigation solutions couldn’t reach.
- The canals are filled with a permanent material, often gutta-percha. This helps to keep the canals free of infection or contamination.
- A temporary filling material is placed on top of the gutta-percha to seal the opening until the tooth is ready to be prepared for a restoration.
- Which type of restoration is used depends on the tooth’s condition. The tooth can be restored by a composite filling, inlay, crown or crown with a post core. In most cases, the tooth will need a crown, especially with molars that are under stress from chewing. A crown will help to restore the tooth’s strength and protect it from cracking. A crown should be placed as soon as possible, ideally within a month of the root canal. It’s important to get the tooth permanently restored to prevent damage to the tooth later. The temporary filling you receive is not meant to last.
The pulp that was removed during root canal treatment is the part that responds to temperature. However, the tissues and nerves surrounding your tooth remain, so your tooth will still respond to pressure and touch.
It is important to look after your teeth when recovering from root canal treatment. You should also avoid biting on hard foods until all treatment is complete. Most people can help prevent the need for further root canal treatment by:
- maintaining good oral hygiene
- being careful to avoid too much sugary food in your diet
- quitting smoking, if you smoke