When asked the question “what is a root canal?” most people can’t answer. And yet, the thought of a root canal procedure instils fear into many. Root canal therapy is nothing to be afraid of and, in reality, is no worse than getting a tooth filled. So let’s get into it!
What is a root canal procedure exactly?
Otherwise known as endodontic therapy, a root canal procedure, involves the removal of infected or diseased pulp and nerves that may be causing significant discomfort. During the process, the inside of the tooth is cleaned, disinfected, and finally sealed. Root canal therapy is, in fact, a common dental treatment carried out by most dentists and is used to repair and save teeth that may otherwise need to be removed.
Why Do I Need Root Canal Treatment?
There are several reasons for a root canal procedure, including tooth decay, repeated dental procedures, cracks or chips, and trauma. Contrary to popular belief, a root canal treatment is not painful. Instead, it gets you out of pain.
To understand why you need root canal therapy, it helps to understand the tooth’s anatomy. A tooth is not hard all the way through. In fact, the middle of the tooth is hollow and is known as the pulp chamber. The chamber contains the tooth pulp, which, in turn, houses the inner workings of the tooth – the nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels.
If there has been severe decay or damage to the outer layers of the tooth, the pulp tissue may be exposed and it becomes susceptible to bacterial penetration and infection—which can result in pain and swelling in the gums around the tooth. Once this happens, it is necessary to remove the pulp tissue with root canal treatment to prevent further infection.
Fortunately, most of the pulp tissue is essential to the development of the tooth and is not vitally important to the tooth’s health and function once the tooth has emerged. It can safely be removed to protect the shell of the tooth so that normal biting and chewing functions are preserved.
Signs of Pulp Tissue Infection
Some people don’t have any symptoms, but most people experience mild or severe symptoms ranging from mild sensitivity to severe pain.
If the infection is not treated, it can cause pain, swelling, and other problems. The condition can also lead to an abscess, affecting neighbouring teeth. Some of the signs and symptoms that you may need a root canal include:
- Severe pain while chewing or biting
- Boils on the gum line that may ooze blood or pus
- A cracked or chipped tooth
- Sensitivity to hot or cold food or beverages that linger, even after the stimulus has been removed
- Swollen or tender gums
- Darkening of the gums or deep decay.
So, What Happens During The Root Canal Procedure?
The procedure is typically performed under a local anaesthetic, although the dentist may use conscious sedation if you are particularly anxious about the treatment.
To gain access to the pulp chamber, the dentist creates an opening in the top of the tooth and uses a variety of instruments to extract the infected tissue from the chamber and root canals in each tooth root. Once all the debris is removed, the inside of the tooth is cleaned thoroughly.
Antibiotic medication may be placed in the chamber before it is sealed with a temporary filling. This is to prevent bacteria re-entering and ensure that no infection is still present within the tooth.
You will return to the dentist a week or so later, and if there are no signs of infection, the temporary filling is removed and replaced with a permanent filling.
What is a Root Canal Crown?
If a large amount of decay has been removed from the tooth during the root canal, it may be weakened and require a dental crown to strengthen it. A crown is a tooth-coloured restoration that fits over the tooth and is made from hard-wearing materials, such as porcelain or metal.
Benefits of Root Canal Treatment
Saves Your Tooth
If the pulp tissue in your tooth is infected, it will need to be removed. It’s the only way to save your tooth, but if you decide you don’t want the procedure, the only other option left is to have it extracted.
No Ugly Gaps
If you can save your tooth with a root canal, you won’t have to worry about any gaps in your dentition. Not only will this be an excellent cosmetic result, but you won’t have to find a suitable tooth replacement option. So, root canal therapy could also save you money.
It’s Virtually Painless
For anyone who is experiencing pain or discomfort, a root canal procedure will alleviate any raging infection inside their tooth. Modern anaesthesia and techniques ensure you experience minimal discomfort throughout the process.
What is a Root Canal? – Conclusion
To summarise, root canal treatment may seem scary, but it is a safe and easy procedure with today’s technological advances. You can feel confident knowing that your dentist will not only provide you with the best outcome to alleviate any discomfort but will also ensure that your tooth remains fully functional.
Moreover, you won’t have to worry about replacing a missing tooth.
If you’d like to find out more, get in touch with us on (02) 9158 6312 and arrange an appointment with one of our team. Pearl Dental Care is committed to providing exceptional dental care in a personalised and gentle way.
Dental Board of Australia: https://www.dentalboard.gov.au/registration/conscious-sedation.aspx