Root Canal Treatment
Severe tooth decay that has progressed to the inner part of the tooth, or dental pulp, requires treatment to remove the decayed outer tooth and damaged inner tissue. This procedure, known as a root canal, can repair a damaged tooth and eliminate the need for an extraction. With appropriate dental care, the tooth is returned to its former pain-free and functional condition.
Why is Root Canal Treatment Necessary?
When a tooth is damaged and the soft interior of the tooth is exposed, it becomes vulnerable to bacteria and infection. This can lead to abscesses, or pockets of pus, when the infection spreads through the tooth down to its roots. In addition to abscesses, swelling can occur in the face and neck. A severely decayed tooth can also result in bone loss in the area of the jaw that holds it. A root canal can prevent all of these unpleasant symptoms, eliminate pain, and restore functionality to the tooth.
How Do I Know if I Need a Root Canal Treatment?
Your dentist will determine whether a root canal is necessary. However, if you have any of the following symptoms, you should schedule a consultation with your dentist as soon as possible. These are symptoms of advanced tooth decay possibly requiring a root canal.
- Tooth pain
- Teeth that are sensitive to very hot or very cold temperatures
- Bad mouth odour
- Swelling and tenderness of the gums around the painful tooth
- Abscesses or sores on the gums
How is a Root Canal Performed?
X-rays are taken of the decayed tooth, to assess the damage and check for infection of the jaw. The affected area is then numbed with a local anaesthetic. Next, the damaged tooth material and the soft centre of the tooth is removed. Then the area is cleaned of debris and sealed.
Restoration of the tooth is necessary after root canal, as the remaining tooth material is weak. This is usually achieved with a dental crown which will protect the tooth and prevent chipping or breakage. This results in a fully restored and functional tooth.
What Can I Expect After a Root Canal?
The area around the tooth may be sensitive after a root canal. Your dentist can recommend an over-the-counter pain reliever to help with any discomfort after the procedure. If you are waiting to get a permanent filling or crown, you may choose to avoid chewing on the side of the repaired tooth until that procedure has been performed. Once all stages of the restoration are complete, you can resume your eating habits and dental care as before.