Root Canal Treatment – a term that can cast instant dread in the most valiant soul! But that’s an unfair label to pin on something that can give your teeth a new lease of life and save an infected tooth from certain death and extraction. It can also relieve you of pain and prevent the spread of infection to other teeth and into the jawbone.
Modern advances in dentistry, technology, materials, and medications have transformed this once-feared procedure into a relatively simple and largely painless, completely safe treatment.
Knowing more about it can help make you feel more confident and less anxious when you decide to opt for root canal treatment provided by Beaverton Dentistry
Tooth Root Structure
The tooth consists of a hard outer layer of white enamel and an even harder layer called the dentin.
Behind the layer of dentin, the tooth contains an inner pulp made of tissue and cells called odontoblasts. It also contains blood vessels and nerves. The pulp serves to create the dentin that protects the teeth, provides nutrition to the surrounding tissues, protects the tooth, and reacts to pressure/trauma by signaling with pain and/or pressure. The nerve that travels into the pulp is known as the tooth’s root or leg.
The pulp keeps the region moist and prevents the tooth from drying out and becoming brittle. This prevents the tooth from breaking when you chew on hard foods. The chamber that holds the pulp has an inner space or main canal with several branches or connected canals. These canals may range from one to five for each tooth, depending on the number of tooth roots.
How Does The Root Get Infected?
Teeth can get damaged due to injury and inflammation. Certain types of irritation are left untreated, hard pieces of food/bone particles lodged in the tooth, deep-seated decay, frequent dental procedures, cracks/chips in the tooth, trauma to the face, etc. can transfer to all layers of the tooth. Any damage to the pulp can result in its breakdown, causing bacteria to occupy the empty space. These micro-organisms and tiny particles of the dead pulp can begin to decompose inside the chamber, causing infections and abscesses. This causes severe pain, swelling of the face, head or neck, and also deterioration of the bone at the tip of the tooth, near the root. The infection prevents proper drainage, creating a hole in the side of the tooth. This hole becomes a channel for the infected matter to pass through into the gums, causing the spread of the infection. This material can move through the soft tissue of the inside of the mouth into the skin of the face if left unattended.
What Is Root Canal Treatment?
Known by several other names such as endodontic treatment/therapy or root canal therapy, etc., this is a procedure that is conducted to free a tooth from infection deep within it, eliminate the bacteria causing the infection, and finally to ensure that you don’t lose the tooth itself. It should be performed only by qualified and experienced dentists or endodontists.
The tooth’s nerve is not essential to the performance of its functions or its survival/health. It can provide the person with the sensation of hot/cold foods/beverages. In root canal treatment, the infected and decayed pulp structures are removed, and the area is completely cleaned and disinfected. The empty area is then filled with certain microscopic inert materials, and a binding material is applied to make the new structures stable. If the procedure is done on molars and premolar teeth, they will require a protective crown to prevent fracture and facilitate chewing. However, a resealing crown or gold covering is always better, no matter the tooth’s position, for better protection.
In short, the treatment follows these basic steps:
- Diagnosis of the problem
- Scheduling a date for tests for other health issues such as diabetes or hypertension
- If you’re on blood-thinners, you will have to stop them for a prescribed period
- If you have diabetes, your blood sugar level has to be under control
- X-ray of the area to locate the problem correctly and check for the spread of infection is done
- Once the problem has been correctly located a suitable date is chosen for the start of treatment
- A local anesthesia is used to numb the area and deal with possible patient anxiety
- A sheet of rubber is placed in the right position to avoid the flow of saliva to the area
- Drilling is done, and the pulp and infected materials are removed
- Root canal files are used to empty the chamber and water completely, or another disinfectant solution is used for flushing out remaining debris
- The next step is to seal the tooth, but many dentists prefer to wait for a few days/weeks until the infection is cleared
- In this case, temporary fillings are used to keep the area clean
- Sealing of the tooth with a dental compound is done
- Further restoration of the appearance and function of the tooth may be required
Benefits of Root Canal Treatment
- Relieves pain
- Saves the tooth
- Prevents the spread of infection
- Improves appearance
- Boosts overall dental and oral health and hygiene
- Protects the jawbone and other teeth from wear and tear
As with all treatments, root canal treatment carries certain risks. These are mainly associated with dental health professional’s expertise, experience, and knowledge. Other risks include:
- Pain and inflammation
- Darkening of the tooth
- Fracture during the procedure or later due to the brittleness of the tooth
- Inadequate sealing
- Tooth may not heal if the dentist was not able to discover all the infected canals and clean them
- Perforation during drilling
- Use of inferior quality filling
- Lengthy treatment that works out to be more than your estimated budget
The most important aspect of the treatment is sealing – unless the tooth chamber is properly sealed, the structure will continue to leak, compounding the infection. It is also important to provide the patient with detailed instructions on home care, nutrition, and maintaining proper levels of fluoride in the body as the tooth can continue to become decayed.