Has your dentist ever told you that you need root canal treatment? If so, you’re not alone. Many teeth are treated and saved each year with root canal treatment. Root canal treatment can relieve your tooth pain and save your smile.
What is Root canal treatment?
Root canal treatment is a complex and precise dental procedure that shaping, disinfecting, and replacing a tooth’s damaged or infected pulp with a filling.
Damage to the pulp may be caused by untreated dental decay, decay beneath a filling, tooth damage due to trauma, tooth grinding (bruxism) or gum disease. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can cause pain or lead to an abscess.
To understand a root canal procedure, it helps to know about the anatomy of the tooth. Inside the tooth, under the white enamel and a hard layer called the dentin, is a soft tissue called the pulp. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue, and helps to grow the root of your tooth during development.
Symptoms of tooth pulp damage or disease
A diseased tooth pulp may cause inflammation or infection.
The symptoms of a damaged or diseased tooth pulp may include:
- Unprovoked or spontaneous pain
- Sensitivity to hot and cold drinks and foods
- Pain when biting or chewing
- Loosening of the tooth
- Swelling of the gum near the affected tooth
- Oozing of pus surrounding the affected tooth
- Facial swelling
- Sometimes, tooth pulp may become damaged or diseased without presenting any symptoms. In these cases, the problem is usually diagnosed by special tests or x-rays during a dental check-up or treatment for other dental concerns.
Complications if left untreated
If tooth pulp infection is left untreated, complications could include:
- Spreading infection – once the pulp becomes infected, it loses its ability to fight the spread of the infection. This can cause a severe infection or a painful abscess.
- Localized bone loss – the infection may spread around the ends of the infected root canal and cause bone loss in the jaw.
- Loss of tooth – the tooth may have to be removed, which interferes with the person’s ability to bite and chew.
How does root canal treatment save the tooth?
During root canal treatment, the inflamed or infected pulp is removed and the inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and disinfected, then filled and sealed with a rubber-like material called gutta-percha. Afterwards, the tooth is restored with a crown or filling for protection. After restoration, the tooth continues to function like any other tooth.
Modern root canal treatment is very similar to having a routine filling and usually can be completed in one or two appointments, depending on the condition of your tooth and your personal circumstances. You can expect a comfortable experience during and after your appointment.
Root canal treatment is used to save teeth that would otherwise need to be removed.
Advantages of root canal treatment
Saving the natural tooth with root canal treatment has many advantages:
- Efficient chewing
- Normal biting force and sensation
- Natural appearance
- Protects other teeth from excessive wear or strain
- Maintain your natural smile, continue eating the foods you love and limits the need for ongoing dental work