What is a Root Canal Treatment?
Root Canal Treatment is a process where your dentist removes the dead and infected pulp tissue from inside your tooth so you can keep the tooth. Typically people refer to this as the nerve of the tooth. In addition to nerve fibres your pulp also contains blood vessels, lymph tissue and connective tissue. Each pulp tissue enters the tooth from the base of the root and runs up in a space called the root canal. Multiple canals meet within the centre of the tooth to form what is called a pulp chamber.
Why do I need a Root Canal?
If the pulp tissue becomes diseased or injured and is unable to repair itself the nerve dies.
This may be caused by:
- Cracked or fractured tooth
- Heavily worn tooth
- Extensive crowns and fillings
- Gum disease
Most of these problems allow bacteria to infiltrate the pulp or nerve of the tooth. This leads to infection and if untreated a formation of pus at the base of the tooth – an abscess can occur. If the abscess is not treated there can be bone lost from around the tooth, pain and even swelling.
What happens when you have a Root Canal?
The aim of a Root Canal Treatment is to remove the bacteria residing in the tooth by cleaning and sterilising inside the roots. The root canals are then sealed to prevent re-infection, allowing you to keep your tooth. The best root canal treatments are usually performed over a minimum of two appointments.
Step by Step Guide to Root Canal Treatment:
1. Firstly the tooth is numbed – we use a WAND to do this. After the tooth is numb, a dental dam is placed. This is a small sheet of rubber that isolates the tooth to keep it clean and dry during the procedure. The ONLY way to have a root canal treatment is through Rubber Dam.
2. The decay is removed and the inside of the tooth prepared with a small opening, so the nerve inside the tooth can be reached. Next, the dentist will use small files to clear away the damaged and diseased pulp from the inside of the tooth. These files will shape the inner chamber of the tooth and root. Irrigation of the root canal space is the most critical part of a root canal. An antimicrobial solution is used to kill any remaining bacteria and reduce the risk for further infection. We also use an “Endo Activator” as the best way to push the solutions into all the little canals of the tooth. By doing this we can achieve a much higher success rate in killing the bacteria.
3. Between appointments the root canals are sealed with a cream that helps kill the bacteria and increase the success of the root canal treatment.
4. At the next visit, once the root canal is thoroughly cleaned and dried, it is filled. A rubber-like material called gutta percha is sealed into the tooth root canals with a special glue.
5. The tooth is then ready for a filling or more commonly a crown. At Leichhardt Street Dental Practice we believe the quality and type of the final filling or crown is essential to ensuring long term success of the treatment as it will prevent bacteria re-entering the root canal.
6. If the tooth is weakened due to the loss of tooth structure and has a high risk of possible fracture a crown may be highly recommend to cover the tooth to provide maximum coverage and support.
Why do I have pain after my root canal treatment?
Root canal treatments have a painful reputation. Where can pain come from during and after a root canal treatment?
- A tooth can be so infected that there is inflammation inside the tooth that is so extensive, anaesthetic has trouble numbing the nerve. This is called a “Hot pulp”. Luckily we have a special numbing method that can help numb the tooth and protect you from this pain.
- Pain can continue after a root canal treatment, because even though there is no nerve inside the tooth, there are nerves around the outside of the tooth roots. These maybe inflamed and infected and can take a while to settle after treatment.
- An extremely small percentage of the population can experience a “flare up”. This is an immune response to the infection and treatment. The pain lasts about 2-3 days and then disappears. Management involves pain relief medication. Sometimes antibiotics can help.
Key Factors to a Successful Root Canal Treatment:
1. Rubber Dam to seal the tooth during treatment.
2. Endo Activator to push the sterilising solutions through any hidden crevices or canals to kill the bacteria
3. The correct strength of anti-bacterial agent is used.
4. A high quality sealed filling or crown, or the bacteria will get back into the root canal.
5. The tooth is not cracked. We always search for cracks in a tooth, however a tooth may crack at a later date and let the bacteria back into the root canal.
There are many advantages to keeping your natural tooth. A Root Canal Treatment is an excellent treatment choice. Though the nerve is gone from inside the tooth, there are many nerves around the tooth which give us “proprioception” – the signals that tell us if we are biting too hard on our teeth.
Contact us today and have a chat about root canal treatments as the cost of loosing your tooth can be far more than the cost of a root canal treatment.
Every surgical or invasive procedure caries risk and may not be suitable for everyone.
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