Root canal treatment, which is also known as Endodontic treatment, is needed when the blood and nerve supply of the tooth is infected or inflamed. This can be caused by decay or injury. The infection may spread throughout the entire root canal system and can eventually lead to an abscess. Root canal treatment is required to stop the spread of the infection and should prevent the tooth from being extracted.
When your tooth’s nerve chamber becomes infected by decay, root canal treatment is often the only way to save your tooth. Inside your tooth’s hard outer shell is a nourishing pulp of blood vessels, lymph vessels and nerves. The root’s canal, allow these vessels and nerves to extend to the bone. Deep tooth decay, or injury can cause serious damage and infection to the pulps nerves and vessels.
In Root canal treatment the infected pulp chamber and canals are cleaned. The treatment is carried out with the use of local anaesthetic and is generally pain free. The treatment involves the removal of all infected tissue from the root canal, by cleaning and filling to prevent any further infection. This procedure normally takes more than one visit and a temporary filling is usually inserted to give the tooth and surrounding area time to settle. The tooth is checked on a later visit and permanently filled. Occasionally the tooth can darken after root canal treatment but if this does occur there are several procedures that may be carried out to restore the natural appearance of the tooth.
- Spontaneous pain or throbbing
- Pain while biting or chewing
- Sensitivity to hot and cold
Severe decay or injury that causes an abscess (infection) in the bone surrounding the tooth.
Endodontic treatment can often be performed in one or two visits and involves the following steps:
Endodontist start with local anesthesia on the tooth on which root canal treatment is to be performed. This primarily avoids any pain and helps you be cooperative to the treatment. After your tooth is numb, the endodontist places a small protective sheet called a “dental dam” over the area to isolate the tooth and keep it clean and free of saliva during the procedure.
The endodontists makes an opening in the crown of the tooth. Very small instruments are used to clean and shape the pulp chamber and root canals, to prepare the canals for filling. On back teeth this hole is made on the chewing surface of the tooth. On front teeth the access hole is made on the tooth’s backside.
After the space is cleaned and shaped, the endodontist fills the root canals with a biocompatible material, usually with a rubber-like material called “gutta-percha” The gutta-percha is placed with an adhesive cement to ensure complete sealing of the root canals. In most cases, a temporary filling is placed to close the opening. The temporary filling will be removed by your dentist before the tooth is restored.
After the final visit with your endodontist, you must return to your dentist to have a crown or other restoration placed on the tooth to protect and restore it to it’s full function. If the tooth lacks sufficient structure to hold the restoration in place, your dentist or endodontist may place a post inside the tooth.
Signs of needing root canal treatment include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, tenderness to touch and chewing, discoloration of the tooth, and swelling, drainage and tenderness in the lymph nodes as well as nearby bone and gingival tissues. Sometimes, however, there are no symptoms.