Root Canal Treatment

Endodontic Treatment (Root Canal Treatment)

If you have a tooth that is badly damaged then you may be offered Root Canal Treatment or "Endodontic" treatment which is what is called by the professionals.  Your tooth may have been damaged by an accident or it may have been damaged by decay.  Root Canal Treatment is very common and thousands of teeth are saved annually in this way.  However good an artificial tooth may be it is never as good as your own tooth so it is recommended to save a damaged tooth wherever possible.  Gaps in your dentine cause other teeth to move about and it makes is harder to keep the remaining teeth clean which in turn can lead to decay.  Root Canal Treatment (RCT) is successful in most cases and if you take good care of the treated tooth it will last for many more years.  All general dental practitioners are trained and qualified to perform root canal treatment but in some cases the dentist may refer the patient to an "endodontist" who has special qualifications in root canal treatment.

Endodontics refers to a tooth with a diseased nerve and is called root canal therapy.  Inside each tooth you have the pulp and this provides nutrients and nerves to the tooth, it runs like a thread down through the root.  Infection or inflammation of the pulp can be caused by: 

.  repeated dental work to the tooth

.  decay caused by a leaky filling or crown

.  gum disease or trauma to the tooth

.  a crack in the tooth or extreme wear and grinding of the tooth.

Symptoms may include sensitivity to heat or cold, tooth discolouration, pain and swelling around the gum.  If it is not treated the tooth will die and the cavity become infected.  The sooner the tooth is treated the greater the chances of successful RCT.  After the dentist has removes the pulp, the root canal is cleaned and sealed off to protect it.  Then your dentist places a crown over the tooth the help make it stronger.

Most of the time, a root canal is a relatively simple procedure with little or no discomfort involving one to three visits. Best of all, it can save your tooth and your smile!

What is the dental pulp?

The pulp is the soft tissue that contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue. It lies within the tooth and extends from the crown of the tooth to the tip of the root in the bone of the jaws.

Why does the pulp need to be removed?

When the infected pulp is not removed, pain and swelling can result. Certain byproducts of the infection can injure your jaw bones. Without treatment, your tooth may have to be removed.

What does treatment involve?

Treatment often involves from one to three visits. During treatment, your general dentist or endodontist (a dentist who specializes in problems of the pulp) removes the diseased pulp. The pulp chamber and root canal(s) of the tooth are then cleaned and sealed.

Here's how your tooth is saved through treatment:

  1. First, an opening is made through the crown of the tooth.
  2. An opening is made through the crown of the tooth into the pulp chamber.
  3. The pulp is then removed. The root canal(s) is cleaned and shaped to a form that can be filled.
  4. The pulp is removed, and the root canals are cleaned, enlarged and shaped
  5. Medications may be put in the pulp chamber and root canal(s) to help get rid of germs and prevent infection.
  6. A temporary filling will be placed in the crown opening to protect the tooth between dental visits. Your dentist may leave the tooth open for a few days to drain. You might also be given medicine to help control infection that may have spread beyond the tooth.
  7. The pulp chamber and root canals are filled and sealed.
  8. The temporary filling is removed and the pulp chamber and root canal(s) are cleaned and filled.
  9. In the final step, a gold or porcelain crown is usually placed over the tooth. If an endodontist performs the treatment, he or she will recommend that you return to your family dentist for this final step.
  10. The crown of the tooth is then restored.