Root canal treatment otherwise known as endodontics, is a dental procedure to treat infection at the center of a tooth or the root canal system. The infections are caused by traumatic damage to teeth, repeated dental procedures on one tooth or tooth decay. Any of these issues could lead to acute inflammation of the pulp which causes pressure and swelling inside the tooth. Whatever the cause of root canal disease, endodontic treatment plays an instrumental role in saving the tooth. Root canal infections are treated by either extracting the tooth or removing bacteria from the root canal system. Dentists however discourage extraction of teeth because it is better to keep as many of your natural teeth as possible. While all dentists in Cambridge have proper training in root canal treatment, as a patient it is important to know what the process entails.
Your dentist will take you through an X-ray to show if the pulp of your tooth has a bacterial infection and the extent of damage. Pulp infection symptoms include;
- A loose tooth
- Pain when chewing or biting
- Pain when the tooth is in contact with hot or cold food and drinks
- Gum swelling
- Oozing of pus from the affected tooth
Routing to the root
After establishing that the pulp of your tooth is infected and that you need root canal treatment, your dentist then injects your gum with local anesthetic to numb the tooth. An opening is then made through the crown of the tooth to the pulp chamber. A rubber sheet known as a dam is placed around your tooth to prevent you from breathing in or swallowing any chemicals the dentist will be using.
Removal of infected tissue
Unhealthy pulp, debris and infections are then cleaned out of the root canals using special files and irrigation. Your dentist then enlarges and shapes the canals which are usually very narrow in readiness for filling. This part of the treatment may take a few hours to complete and you may be required pay your dentist a few more visits.
Antibiotics are then prescribed by your orthodontist to prevent further infection. Next, temporary filling and medication are removed and the root canals are then filled with permanent material. This is usually done with a material known as gutta-percha which helps in keeping the root canals free from contaminations and infections.
Rebuilding the tooth
Root canal treatment also entails filling the root canals with a temporary filling material on top of the gutta-percha in order to close the opening. Orthodontists recommend that the filling remains until the tooth receives a permanent filling or a crown. A crown resembles a natural tooth and is placed over the top of the tooth.
In some cases, the gutta-percha does not hold the crown firmly. When this happens, a post is placed into the root canal for extra support.
It is most likely that your root filled teeth will break so your dentist may suggest placing a crown on your tooth to protect it. This is the last step in root canal treatment where the crown is cemented into place.