A root canal treatment is a procedure that is performed to save a dead or dying tooth. Also known as a root canal procedure, this treatment is performed when your tooth pulp is diseased or infected. Let’s unpack what is a root canal and what you can expect from the procedure,
What Is A Root Canal?
To understand why root canals are performed, you first need to understand how a tooth is structured. Each of your teeth has pulp inside. The dental pulp is responsible for feeding each tooth with a supply of nutrients and nerves. The supply of nerves and nutrients is only a requirement when teeth are still developing but an infection in the pulp can cause the loss of the tooth, and can also spread to other teeth and tooth structures if it is not treated.
Not having a root canal procedure when you need treatment could result in
- An abscess developing at the tooth root
- Deterioration of your gums and mouth structure
- Severe and persistent pain
An infection can also cause further complications in your body including blood poisoning, swelling, fever and general illness.
What Are The Signs And Symptoms Of A Root Canal Infection?
The surest way to establish whether you need root canal treatment is through a consultation with your dentist and an x-ray. Some of the signs that may indicate the presence of an infection include
- Tooth or gum pain, especially when biting down
- Tooth sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
- Facial swelling
As you can see, these signs are quite generic and may be shared with other oral health conditions. Consulting with your dentist is the best way to establish if you need a root canal treatment, and any symptoms should be discussed with a professional as soon as possible.
What Is A Root Canal Caused By?
Even the tiniest hole or crack in your tooth enamel could be big enough for bacteria to enter your tooth. The cavity or crack might be so small that you can’t even see it. Your dentist has special equipment and instrumentation to be able to make the right diagnosis.
Why Is A Root Canal Treatment Performed?
In decades gone by if a patient had infected tooth pulp, the tooth would be extracted.
Thanks to advances in modern dentistry, today, patients have the opportunity to save their teeth by having a root canal treatment.
In order to do this, your dentist needs to clean all the infected pulps and nerves, and then to seal them up again so they cannot be reinfected.
What Can You Expert From A Root Canal Procedure?
Your dentist will want to take an x-ray of the affected area in order to see how extensive the infection is. Then, an opening will be drilled into the surface of the affected tooth, to enable your dentist to access the pulp chamber and perform the root canal treatment.
During your root canal procedure, the infected pulp will be removed, and your canals will be rinsed out and medicated. It’s important that the canals are cleaned out properly to prevent reinfection. Depending on the extent of the infection you may need two or three sessions to remove all the infected material. If this is the case, your dentist will fit a temporary filling over the hole to protect it.
Once your dentist is satisfied that the infected material has been removed, he or she will seal your canals up. In much the same way a dental cavity is addressed with a filling, the previously infected tooth canals also need to be sealed to prevent reinfection.
To complete your root canal treatment your dentist will make a crown to be fitted over your tooth. This will restore any damaged areas and strengthen the tooth. It will also ensure that the hole that your dentist made is covered, and doesn’t allow any bacteria to penetrate your tooth.
The crown will be shaped to match your other teeth in terms of size, shape and colour. Crowns can be made out of porcelain, composite resin, ceramic, metal or metal fused to porcelain. Porcelain provides the closest aesthetic match to your natural teeth but metal and metal fused to porcelain are the strongest and longest-lasting.
Is A Root Canal Procedure Painful?
Root canal treatment is performed under anaesthetic so you should not feel any pain while it is being done. You may feel some sensitivity after your root canal procedure but this should improve quickly. Most patients find a root canal procedure to be very similar to getting a filling in terms of experience.
To find out more about what is a root canal, please contact us for professional advice: (02) 8203 8760.