Root canal therapy – also known as endodontic therapy – is a dental treatment that removes infection from inside a tooth. Severe pain and swelling can occur when a tooth has become infected or severely decayed. Due to this, a root canal treatment is the most comfortable and affordable option to save your tooth.
Before you make your decision, these are 5 essential things you need to know about root canal treatment.
Signs & Symptoms That You Need Root Canal Treatment
If one of your teeth is infected, root canal treatment is often the treatment of choice for preserving the natural tooth. You may need root canal treatment if you’re suffering from symptoms such as prolonged temperature-sensitive tooth pain, tender and swollen gums, as well as jaw and toothaches.
Until you see your dentist, however, you will not know whether you need root canal treatment. Your dentist will take X-rays and examine your teeth and gums to determine the best course of treatment for you.
How A Root Canal Treatment Is Done
Knowing the anatomy of your tooth will help you to understand the root canal treatment procedure. The visible part of your tooth that extends past the gums is called the crown, while the soft centre of your tooth is referred to as the pulp chamber. The inside of the root of your tooth meanwhile, is known as the root canal, which stretches from the top of the root into the pulp chamber. The pulp chamber contains the nerve of the tooth where the root canal is filled with connective tissue and blood vessels that help provide nourishment to your tooth.
Decay that has reached the pulp chamber or nerve of the tooth will require root canal treatment. If there’s also an abscess with pus at the top of the root, there will usually be severe pain and a root canal procedure will be required. A tooth can function with or without the nerve, which is why root canal treatment is often a viable option.
During a root canal treatment, your dentist will remove the infected nerve and pulp from the root canal system and then seal it with a biocompatible material called Gutta-Percha. In most cases, tooth restoration such as a crown will be required following root canal treatment, due to significant decay.
The procedure itself will take around 30-90 minutes, depending on your individual needs and your dentist’s experience. Firstly, a local anaesthetic will be applied to the nerves that lead to the tooth, before a rubber dam is placed around the tooth to keep the area clean. A small hole is then drilled into the tooth followed by the removal of the infected pulp. The root canal space is then disinfected before being filled and referred for permanent restoration.
Is A Root Canal Treatment Painful?
The root canal treatment itself is a pain-free procedure, however, every individual feels pain differently. It’s important to remember that root canal treatment relieves pain and doesn’t cause it. If you were in pain before your root canal procedure, there should be a noticeable relief in pain following the treatment.
In the days after your treatment, you may notice that your tooth is sensitive. This is a normal response to inflammation in the tissue surrounding the tooth and can be managed with over the counter painkillers. Be sure to not chew on the side of the mouth that has been treated to avoid damaging or even breaking your tooth. If you’ve already booked an appointment to cement a crown, always make sure you avoid chewing on the tooth until your crown has been seated. Following a completed treatment, be sure to brush and floss at least twice a day and to see your dentist regularly for prophylactic cleaning and examinations.
What Is The Success Rate For A Root Canal Procedure?
The success rate for a root canal treatment is 95%. The other 5% could be due to inadequate restoration or a crack in the root of the tooth, which can cause infection to return. If this were to occur, your dentist will perform root canal re-treatment to relieve pain, treat the infection and save your tooth.
A root canal treatment is said to fail when it becomes re-infected or is not completed due to complications. This can happen as a result of a number of factors, such as a failure to maintain oral hygiene, a cracked or leaking crown, an undetected and untreated extra canal, or by a lodged endodontic tool in the canal.
Be sure to arrange regular follow-up visits with your dentist to allow for early detection in the case of a root canal treatment failure.
How Is A Root Canal Re-treated?
In the rare occasion where a root canal treatment fails, the patient may require endodontic surgery. Despite root canal failure, state of the art technology and endodontic treatment will save the tooth.
The most common procedure is called an apicoectomy, in which an endodontist will administer local anaesthetic before pulling back the gums. The endodontist will then remove all inflamed and infected tissues, before placing a small filling to seal the root and prevent further infection. Lastly, the gums are stitched up to allow the area to heal. The procedure sounds complex however, is minimally invasive with a typically short healing time.
It’s normal to feel a little apprehensive if you’ve been told you need a root canal treatment. The truth is, a root canal treatment is a highly successful procedure that has allowed millions of people around the world to keep their teeth that would otherwise have been lost.