Root canal treatment
What is endodontics?
Endodontics is a dental procedure that deals with the nerves in a tooth as well as the diseases associated with it. Root canal treatment, also called endodontic treatment, involves removing infected, damaged or dead pulp from the tooth, which helps save your tooth rather than having to consider getting it extracted.
What causes the nerve in the tooth to be infected?
A canal is the space that is located inside the hard layers of the tooth and contains the dental pulp. This tissue contains the nerves and blood vessels that allow the tooth to grow and feel. Bacteria that enters your tooth through deep cavities, cracks, damaged fillings or a trauma can cause irritation to this pulp causing sometimes extreme pain and eventually an abscess to form. It is therefore severe inflammation or infection of the dental pulp that is at the origin of it. The pulp must then be removed, the space disinfected and then sealed. The abscess can cause pain or inflammation. Left untreated, the abscess can lead to serious oral health problems.
The stages of root canal treatment
- First, your dentist will numb the tooth. To prevent bacteria in your saliva from coming into contact with your tooth during treatment, the treatment involves placing a rubber dam around the tooth.
- Subsequently, your dentist will proceed by making a small opening in the tooth to access the canal and the damaged pulp.
- He/she will then be able to remove the pulp using small precision instruments and clean the canal. This will then be filled with a thermoplastic sealing material.
- The tooth will eventually be closed with a temporary or permanent restauration..
- The ideal way to restore a tooth that has had a root canal treatment is a ceramic crown. Indeed, a tooth that is devitalized is much more at risk of fracture, it is drier since the vital part (the pulp) has been removed. Thus, the ceramic crown is the solution of choice to preserve the remaining dental structure and avoid root fractures which would ultimately undermine the extraction of the tooth.
Things to know about this treatment
- Although many people are fearful when they need this type of treatment, know that with the technologies and techniques that we use in dentistry today, it simplifies enormously the procedure.
- A root canal treatment is done painlessly using mechanized instruments that increase the precision and efficiency of the treatment.
- Root canal treatment may require 1 or 2 visits.
- Your tooth may remain temporarily sensitive for 1 to 2 weeks, and should gradually be symptom free.
- Your dentist will make sure to do a follow-up treatment with you to confirm that you are comfortable.
- As with any tooth, good dental hygiene is essential. Indeed, a tooth treated with a root canal will not feel discomfort to hot, cold, sweet or air. However, a tooth can still be at risk of cavities or gum disease after a root canal treatment.
- Even though a root canal treatment has good success rates, it does happen that a tooth previously treated with a root canal might need to be renewed. That will involve removing the obturation along with the existing sealing agent and cleaning the canal again, retreating and sealing again.
- Root surgery is sometimes necessary if conventional root canal treatment cannot be done or has not been successful. The dentist can then proceed to an apectomy which consists of amputating part of the root (the end, which is called the apex) and subsequently placing a sealing agent from the root tip.
- Finally, it is good to remember that your dentist has all the expertise to treat you and that in the presence of a particular case, he will, if necessary, refer you to a specialist called an endodontist.