Root canal therapy can often be used to save a damaged tooth.
What is Root Canal Therapy?
Root canal therapy refers to the removal of the nerve and pulp located within the tooth due to damage or the nerve becoming infected or inflamed. A nerve can be inflamed or infected from:
- Tooth Decay
- Gum disease
- Broken crown or filling
- Extreme wear to the tooth
During the procedure of root canal therapy, the area where the nerve and pulp are located is thoroughly cleaned to be prepared to accept the filling material that is used to fill in the canals where the nerve used to be.
Depending on the severity of the damage to the tooth, multiple visits may be needed. To protect the area, a temporary filling may be used during appointments.
At the final appointment, the tooth will be sealed either using a filling or crown to help keep the natural look of your tooth.
Symptoms that indicate a root canal may be necessary include:
- Throbbing Toothache
- Pain When Chewing or Biting
- Heightened Sensitivity to Heat & Cold
- Persistent Bad Breath
- Swelling of Lymph Nodes in the Neck
- Facial Swelling
- Swelling and Tenderness in the Nearby Gums
- A Persistent or Recurring Pimple on the Gums
- Discolouration or Darkening of the Tooth
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, you likely have an abscessed tooth. Left untreated, the infection (swelling) can spread to the jaw and throughout the face, resulting in systemic infection. An untreated tooth abscess can also result in tooth loss.
Benefits of Root Canal Therapy
The benefits of choosing root canal therapy to save a tooth include:
- Painless procedure – A local anaesthetic will numb the tooth and surrounding area to ensure that no pain is noticed during the procedure.
- Keep natural smile – None of the surrounding teeth are disturbed during the procedure, ensuring the natural smile is preserved.
- Limits spread of disease – Root canal therapy removes the nerves that have been infected and diseased. This helps to prevent the disease from spreading to other teeth or areas within the mouth.
Possible Complications with Root Canal Therapy
With any dental procedure, there is a possibility of a few complications occurring during the procedure. Some of these complications with root canal therapy can include:
- Tooth fracture – Since the tooth is weakened and less durable, there is a possibility of a fracture occurring on the tooth. If not resolved immediately, the fracture can open the doors for bacteria to grow resulting in further procedures or tooth extraction.
- Infection – If the area of the tooth hasn’t been cleaned thoroughly, a re-infection of the tooth is likely to happen, resulting in further procedures.
- Missing the root canal – Since there are 3-4 root canals in the tooth, it is possible for the dentist to miss the canal especially if the tooth is in an unusual position. If not detected during the procedure, then there is a risk of infection.
Root Canal Therapy FAQs
Although many patients feel anxious about undergoing root canal therapy, the procedure itself is actually completely painless. A local anaesthetic is used to numb the tooth as well as the surrounding area, which means that you won’t feel anything during the procedure. Once the treatment is complete, however, you may feel some sensitivity at the site of surgery. Your dentist will recommend some over-the-counter pain medication to manage any discomfort that you feel. Any tissue inflammation and tenderness that you experience should resolve within a few days.
During a root canal procedure, your dentist will begin by administering a local anaesthetic to the affected tooth and surrounding area. A small hole will then be drilled into the tooth and the pulp, bacteria, decayed nerve tissue and debris will be removed. The root canal will then be carefully cleaned to ensure that all debris has been flushed away. When the tooth has been thoroughly cleaned, it is sealed to prevent further infection. Depending on the severity of the damage, multiple visits may be needed. In this case, a temporary filling will be placed to protect the tooth between appointments.
Root canal therapy may be recommended in cases where the nerve and pulp that is located within the tooth is damaged, infected or inflamed. Inflammation and infection of the nerve and pulp can be caused by a number of factors, including tooth decay, gum disease, a broken crown or filling, and extreme wear to the tooth. Some of the symptoms that may indicate that the treatment is necessary include a throbbing toothache, pain when chewing or biting, sensitivity to heat and cold, bad breath, swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, facial swelling, swollen gums, and darkening of the affected tooth.