Modern technology has allowed root canal treatment to be delivered quickly and pain-free. This treatment is required where a tooth has an infection which has spread to the nerve. Cleaning and removing the nerve allows you to save these teeth so you can chew comfortably and avoid removing the affected teeth.
How does Root Canal Treatment work?
It involves using an instrument to remove the diseased nerve tissue inside a tooth. This nerve tissue sits in one or many canals – each canal must have its nerve tissue removed to ensure successful treatment. Once the tissue is removed, the canals are cleaned, shaped and filled, ensuring the ceasing of infection, and preserving a tooth which would have otherwise been removed.
The tooth requires cleaning because of a bacterial infection due to decay, deep fillings, tooth fracture or trauma. This process flares up as a toothache and can eventually lead to an abscess. The tooth may have no issues whilst the nerve slowly undergoes necrosis (nerve death) and an abscess starts to brew in the underlying jaw bone. When this abscess reaches a certain size, the pressure manifests as pain especially upon biting, but can also be seen as a swelling on the gum near the tooth.
When you have root canal treatment, infection control is critical. This disease process is caused by bacteria so to ensure proper isolation and no contamination during treatment, a dental rubber dam must be used. Once the cleaning stage has been completed, a root canal filling material is used to fill the canals. Most teeth require full coverage crowns after root canal treatment to prevent cracks and fracture of the tooth in the future.
Root Canal Treatment Misconceptions:
- it doesn’t work -> False
- Root canal treatment has a high success rate with 8 out of 10 teeth being effectively treated and saved rather than extracted. Bear in mind that a lot of medical procedures have lower success rates than this.
- it hurts -> False
- Adequate local anaesthesia ensures you do not feel a thing. Communication with your dentist is paramount, always advise them if you are not completely anaesthetised as there are different ways to ensure you are more comfortable.
Things to be mindful of:
- the amount of canals and their shape can vary from person to person
- the success rate of root canal treatment drops in cases where root canal treatment needs to be re-done
- a strong restoration (crown, onlay, inlay) is recommended for endodontically (root canal) treated teeth