If you’ve recently learned you need root canal therapy, you may be somewhat concerned about the prospect. Root canal treatment has an undeservedly poor reputation when the truth is it’s a very good treatment that can save your natural teeth from extraction.
What Is Root Canal Therapy?
Root canal therapy is necessary if the centre of your tooth, the dental pulp, becomes infected or inflamed. The pulp consists of connective tissues, nerves and blood vessels and extends into the root canals in your tooth roots. When a tooth is strong and healthy, the dental pulp is surrounded by tooth structure that protects it, but if a tooth becomes decayed or damaged, infection-causing bacteria naturally present in your mouth can get deep inside the tooth, eventually reaching the dental pulp.
During a root canal treatment, our dentist will carefully make an opening in the tooth to access the dental pulp, removing the entire dental pulp. The pulp tissues extending into the root canals are also removed, and the root canals are shaped using special files.
Once we are sure all the diseased or inflamed tissue is removed, our dentist will disinfect the empty pulp chamber. We may place topical antibiotics at this stage, especially if the infection is severe. Otherwise, we can place a temporary filling until we can permanently restore the tooth. Sometimes it is best to temporarily fill the tooth while it settles down, to ensure the infection is eliminated. Immediately after root canal therapy, your tooth may feel a bit sensitive, and it could take a few days to settle down completely, but any severe tooth pain should disappear.
The final part of treatment is to fill your tooth permanently with a material called gutta-percha, and we will probably need to place a dental crown over the entire tooth. Usually, a tooth that requires root canal therapy will have lost quite a bit of its original structure, so an ordinary filling wouldn’t be strong enough to repair it. Covering the entire tooth helps restore its original strength, structure and appearance, leaving you with a tooth that looks and feels natural and comfortable and pain-free.
How Can I Tell If I Need Root Canal Therapy?
The most common symptom is toothache or sensitivity to hot and cold. You may also notice the gum around the tooth looks swollen, and there could be a pimple on the gum, which is the infection trying to escape. It’s more likely that you will need root canal therapy if you have a severely decayed tooth or have lost a filling and failed to replace it or if you took a severe knock to a tooth.
If you have a toothache, please make an appointment to come and see us as soon. The more quickly we can see you, the more likely we can save a severely infected tooth from extraction. Leaving toothache untreated increases the risk of tooth extraction, a situation we fight hard to avoid.