Root Canal Treatment
Root canal treatment is a procedure done to remove infected, injured or dead pulp from the tooth. Once the pulp is removed the remaining cavity or space is well cleaned, shaped and filled so as to seal off the root canal. In the past, if you had a diseased or injured pulp, it meant that you had to lose that tooth. But the advent of root canal treatment has made it possible to restore your natural tooth and literally save your smile.
Getting to the root if it
To understand root canal treatment, it is important to know something concerning the anatomy of the tooth. There is a space inside the tooth, under the white enamel and dentin, called the pulp chamber which encloses the root canal system and the pulp – living tissue made up of blood vessels, nerve endings and connective tissue. It also creates the surrounding hardy tissue of the tooth during development.
The pulp extends all the way from the tooth’s crown to the root-threads/tips where it joins with the tissues which surround the root. The pulp is very crucial to the growth of the tooth. Once it matures, the tooth can do without the pulp because it will still get nourishment from the tissues surrounding it.
How serious is tooth pulp damage or disease?
As mentioned above, the pulp can get infected or inflamed. This usually happens when bacteria infiltrate the tooth causing deep decay, or if the tooth suffers a traumatic injury such as a chip, crack or a root fracture. Another common cause is many procedures performed on one tooth, or when the fillings are poorly done giving bacteria a haven to thrive.
Any of these factors can cause acute inflammation of the pulp, resulting in swelling and pressure building inside the tooth, with no outlet. At this juncture, one experiences sharp tooth pain, eventually leading to irreversible damage of the pulp. Once the pulp dies off, the pain may reduce initially, but this doesn’t mean that all is well. The infection is spreading to the periapical (surrounding) tissues, and especially the bone and this may lead to bone loss. In serious cases, a hole can develop at the side of the tooth, draining into the gums or into the skin via the cheek.
emergency root canal treatment is therefore necessary so as to get rid of the pain and save the tooth.
Root canal procedure
The dentist or endodontist (a dentist specially trained in endodontic/root canal procedures) will first administer local anesthetic ensure that the patient feels no pain. If the pulp is severely infected, anesthesia may not be necessary since the nerves are damaged already.
The affected tooth is covered or wrapped in thin rubber (usually called a �rubber dam’) to shield the root canals from contamination. Any decayed portions of the tooth are removed, as well as any affected fillings. The pulp or pulp remnants are then extracted.
The dentist makes use of a special drill and some other small instruments to clean and shape the canals to ensure that all bacteria, pus and debris are removed. The root canal may have to be hollowed out to ensure the interior has a smooth surface. Afterwards, it is flushed with disinfectants and then dried. If it is still susceptible to infection, the tooth may be temporarily sealed using a filling material.
It may take a few weeks or even months before the pulp is filled. In subsequent appointments, the dentist may repeat the cleaning procedure so that the tooth is free from bacteria.
The infection-free root canal will then be sealed with long-lasting material called �gutta percha’. It is made of rubber. To further protect the biting surface, an artificial cover for the tooth is made from the regular filling materials.
How long will the restored tooth last?
With proper care, it can last for a lifetime. Since oral decay can still occur in a treated tooth, once must always practice good oral hygiene to prevent further problems.