Root Canal Therapy
Root Canal Therapy
Most people who end up needing root canal treatment come in with a tooth ache. The doctor will test the tooth and any adjacent teeth by percussion and palpation. The dentist will also conduct a cold test.
If the tests are positive, a root canal treatment will be initiated. A root canal treatment is needed because the nerve of a tooth is affected by decay or infection. In order to save the tooth, the living tissue inside the tooth known as the pulp, nerves, bacteria, and decay are removed and the resulting space is filled with dental medicated materials.
Having a root canal completed is the treatment of choice to save a tooth otherwise it will have to be extracted. Many patients believe that removing a tooth that has problems is the solution; however what is not realized is that extracting (pulling) a tooth will ultimately be more costly and cause significant problems for adjacent teeth.
Root canal treatment is highly successful (80-90%) and usually lasts a lifetime, although on occasion, a tooth will have to be retreated due to new infections.
Signs and symptoms for possible root canal therapy
An abscess (or pimple) on the gums
Tooth/teeth sensitive to hot and cold
Severe toothache pain
Swelling and/or tenderness
Sometimes no symptoms are present if the nerve is already dead (necrotic)
Reasons for root canal therapy
Decay has reached the pulp (living tissue inside the tooth)
Infection or abscess has developed inside the tooth or at the root tip
Trauma to the tooth
What does root canal therapy involve?
A root canal usually takes one to two appointments depending on the severity. If the case is extremely challenging, a referral to an endodontist (one who specializes in root canal treatment) may be given.
Once the tooth is numb, a rubber dam (a sheet of rubber) will be placed to isolate the tooth by keeping it dry and free of saliva/debris. An access opening is made on top of the tooth and a series of root canal files are placed into the opening. The files remove the pulp, nerve tissue, and bacteria. If decay is present, it will also be removed with special dental instruments.
Once the tooth is thoroughly cleaned and sealed a permanent restoration (filling) will be placed to cover the opening on the top of the tooth. If additional appointments are needed, a temporary filling will be placed then at the next appointment, usually a week later, the roots and the inside cavity of the tooth will be filled and sealed with special dental materials and a permanent restoration will be placed.
In addition, all teeth that have root canal treatment should have a crown (cap) placed. This will protect the tooth and prevent it from breaking, and restore it to its full function.
After treatment, your tooth may be sensitive, but this will subside as the inflammation diminishes.
Post-op care instructions are given after each appointment. Good oral hygiene practices and regular visits will aid in the life of your root canal treated tooth.