What is Root Canal Treatment and WHY do I need it?
To save a tooth that has been badly damaged due to decay, disease or injury, extraction is no longer the only option! Your dentist may suggest ‘root canal treatment’ which can help treat an infection, take out the injured nerve and alleviate the pain. Root canal treatment is generally the preferred option to extraction as your own natural tooth is stronger and more effective for chewing and biting while cleaning and maintenance is a lot easier.
If you choose to leave the tooth untreated an infection may occur which could spread to the jaw. Pus can build up and cause pain while cysts may also develop. In some cases if the infection is left untreated it can lead to facial swelling which may require more aggressive treatment. However like all things in life, root canal treatment does pose some risks and complications. The tooth may need additional treatment, referral to a specialist (endodontist) or possibly even extraction
How do I know if I need a Root Canal?
It is probably best to see a dentist if you present with any of the following symptoms:
Lingering tooth sensitivity to cold or hot liquids
- Tooth sensitivity
- Tooth pain to biting pressure
- Severe or throbbing tooth pain
- Spontaneous, constant or intermittent tooth pain
- Swelling of the face
- Deep holes (cavities) in your teeth
It is also important to note that not all root canal infections are painful. However this does not mean it doesn’t require treatment.
What is the procedure and what are the goals of the procedure?
The aim of root canal treatment is to remove the infected nerve and the infected canal tissue from the inside of the tooth and therefore eliminate infection from the tooth.
- The openings to all canals in the tooth are identified and the infection is removed with special files. This may take a few visits to complete.
- Once all canals are cleaned out, they are filed with a rubber based material. It is very important to have a permanent filling placed in the tooth to prevent re-infection.
- It may be necessary to have a crown placed on the tooth if the tooth is very broken down or has a large filling.
What instructions should I be following to maintain and take care of the tooth following the procedure?
- Root canal treatment is successful in most cases, with the infection resolved and healthy bone regenerated around the tooth.
- It is also very important to maintain good oral hygiene by flossing around the tooth at least once a day and brushing at least twice a day.
- Regular trips to the dentist each 6-12 months will also allow the tooth to be maintained in its best condition.
- Any fractures or breaks in the filling or tooth will need to be assessed by a dentist as soon as possible. If fractures in root canal treated teeth are untreated it can result in the root canal needing to be redone or the tooth may even need to be extracted.