When the inner part of the tooth, known as the dental pulp, becomes infected or damaged, your tooth may need root canal therapy.
In this article, we will explain what is involved in therapy at dentist, and why it is often necessary to improve your dental health.
Please note that you may also sometimes hear root canal therapy referred to as endodontic treatment.
The structure of the tooth
Firstly, a note on the structure of the tooth, which is important to understand if we are to understand the root canal process. The centre of the tooth includes the blood vessels, nerves, and tissues that maintain the livelihood of the tooth.
The majority of the tooth consists of dentine, with enamel being the name given to the outermost layer that offers protection of the tooth within the mouth. The part that sits within the gum is known as the root, and it plays the key role in keeping the tooth in place.
The dental pulp plays its most important role in childhood, when it can influence dental development. As an adult, one’s teeth are more static, which is why the pulp can be effectively removed when undergoing this procedure.
How can I tell that I need a root canal?
As with all things dental, self-diagnosis is not possible for those who are not trained as dental professionals, and nor is it advised – it’s easy to suspect you have a condition that you don’t, or to miss real issues.
However, it can help to monitor for certain symptoms, and if you find yourself experiencing them, to book an advance appointment at your dentist, who will then be able to investigate the issue in depth for you. These symptoms may include:
- Random pain in the tooth.
- Sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks.
- Pain when you eat or bite.
- Local gum swelling and redness.
- Pus near the tooth.
- A swollen face or loosening tooth.
If your dental specialist notices these symptoms or has cause to believe you are suffering from damage to the tooth pulp or infection of the tooth pulp, then your dentist may order additional tests, such as X-rays, to determine whether there is a need to perform a root canal procedure.
What causes damaged or infected dental pulp?
Usually, an infection may occur when the protection of the dental pulp wears away. Hence, the cause of your damaged or infected dental pulp often relates to causes that eat away at or damage the surface of the teeth. Conditions that can procedure infected dental pulp include:
- Tooth decay that exposes the vulnerable parts of the tooth. This may occur below a filling that was used in the first place to cover a cavity.
- A direct impact to the tooth that causes dental damage, such as a sports injury.
- Ongoing tooth grinding that wears away at the teeth.
- Periodontitis or serious gum disease.
- Cracked or fractured teeth.
Why do I need to undergo the procedure?
As your dental specialist will tell you, damaged dental pulp can be highly painful, which is one reason why many people want to have a root canal undertaken at their local dentist. However, the most important reason for having root canal therapy at your dental professional is to prevent further complications.
For example, by not treating your infected dental pulp, the infection may be able to spread, causing painful pockets of pus, and potentially leading to infection of the bone which is more serious. This can eat away at the jawbone. An infection may also necessitate the extraction of a tooth if it is not dealt with in a timely manner, so tooth loss is a possible consequence of non-treatment.
What does a root canal procedure involve?
During the procedure, your dentist is intending to achieve a number of different goals for your dental health. The first will be to remove the infected or damaged dental pulp, and this may also involve removing any defective fillings that may have underlined the tooth decay.
Secondly, they will shape the canals of the teeth, to remove spaces that bacteria would thrive in, and where any residual bacteria may linger. Once this is done, the canal is filled with an inert dental material that seals the tooth from further infection. Typically, a large restoration is put over the tooth – sometimes a dental crown if that is suitable for the tooth.
Will my root canal succeed?
They are a highly successful procedure most of the time, with success measured by the patient’s ability to retain their natural tooth. To keep your tooth as healthy for as long as possible, the dental care routine you must follow is not that different from your everyday dental care routine. Just aim to limit your sugar intake, brush, and floss sufficiently and with proper technique at home, and regularly visit your dental practitioner for a regular dental check-up, every six months.
Where can I get a root canal procedure?
You can have a root canal procedure undertaken at your local dentist. Our friendly dental team can talk you through the procedure, what is involved, root canal cost, and its benefits. Remember, the procedures are not a discretionary procedure, but a necessary one. In case of more doubts Haberfield Dental Practice will help you clarify them.