When Is Root Canal Treatment Needed?
The crown of the tooth is made up of the hard, white, enamel layer and a thicker dentine layer. Both these hard layers protect the innermost soft tissues of the tooth called the pulp. The dental pulp contains blood vessels and nerves within and extends from the crown to the tips of the root or roots.
Root canal treatment involves the removal of the pulp tissues from the tooth in the event that it gets infected or inflamed. The pulp can be infected or inflamed due to either deep decay or an extensive restoration that involves the pulp, cracked or fractured tooth due to trauma, excessive wear of enamel and dentine exposing the pulp, and sometimes as a result of severe gum disease.
Signs of pulp damage may include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, discoloration of the tooth, swelling, tenderness of the overlying gums or a bad taste in the mouth. On the other hand, there may be no symptoms at all. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can eventually cause pain, swelling and loss of the supporting bone.
What Are The Advantages Of Root Canal Treatment
Root canal treatment saves teeth that would otherwise have been extracted.
After root canal treatment the tooth is pulp-less i.e. it has no vital tissues within. However, there are vital tissues surrounding the root e.g. the gum, periodontal membrane and supporting bone. A root canal treated tooth can function normally and can be maintained with routine dental care and oral hygiene measures.
The following diagram demonstrates the stages of root canal treatment:
Root canal treatment procedures are relatively comfortable and often painless as the tooth is anaesthetised during treatment. After treatment, the tooth may be sensitive or tender for a few days due to inflammation of the surrounding tissues. This discomfort can be relieved by taking mild analgesics or painkillers available over the counter at the pharmacy. However, if the pain persists and is severe, or a swelling occurs, you should contact your dentist.
Root Canal Treatment success depends on :
- complexity of the root canal
- accessibility of the root canal space and nerves within – the root canal space calcifies as we get older and treatment becomes more difficult
- shape and curvature of the roots
- ability to decontaminate the whole root canal system
Simple root canal procedures enjoy success rates in excess of 80%. When treatment difficulty increases, success can be compromised, and treatment will be better performed in the hands of a Specialist Endodontist.
you lose a tooth, it is not going to grow back ! Neither is our implant technology as good as the original tooth !!….so whenever you are about to embark on a tricky root canal, our strong advice is to consider having this completed by one of our Specialist Endodontists. Endodontists have received advanced training in the use of special equipment and techniques, and are well equipped to maximise the chances of tooth survival. Typically, endodontists use microscopes to search the anatomy of the root canals and clean these out extremely throughly, followed by very tight sealing of the root canal to minimise the chance of re-infection.
Endodontists can occasionally save teeth that would otherwise be deemed to be too difficult to treat. Usually the outcomes and prognosis of a tooth treated by an endodontist is superior to the outcomes of root canal treatment by a general practitioner. The endodontist works in partnership with your dentist, so that the endodontist completes the root canal, and your own dentist completes the crown which is usually need after root canal treatment.