What Is Root Canal Treatment?
what is root canal treatment

The root canal is the natural cavity within the centre of a tooth that contains the pulp chamber and the nerve.

Root canal treatment is a term used to describe the repair required when a badly decayed tooth has become infected.

This necessitates a procedure to remove both the nerve and infected pulp from the chamber.

During a root canal procedure, the cavity inside the tooth canal is enlarged and thoroughly cleaned before being sealed.

Root canal treatment is done to save the tooth and prevent the surrounding tissue from becoming infected.

What Causes the Tooth Canal to Become Infected?

Deep decay, large fillings, a chip or crack in the tooth’s enamel, repeated dental procedures a knock to the tooth or trauma to the face may damage the nerve and pulp in the tooth canal, leading to the need for root canal treatment.

When the nerve tissue or pulp is damaged, the tooth structure starts to break down, causing bacteria to multiply within the canal.

Decayed debris and bacteria can lead to infection and sometimes cause an abscess to form.

An abscess develops when an infection has spread down to the root of the tooth forming a puss-filled pocket that is extremely painful.  

Infection of the root canal can cause:

  • Inflammation and swelling around the tooth that may spread to areas of the face or neck.
  • Drainage problems when a hole develops through the tooth causing drainage of puss into the gums and skin of the affected area.
  • Bone loss at the root tip.
  • The tooth nerve and pulp may become infected, inflamed, and irritated.

Root canal treatment can sometimes leave the tooth weak and more prone to breaking.

Depending on the integrity of the tooth, it may be necessary to insert a crown to prevent any further loss of the tooth’s structure.

When is Root Canal Treatment Necessary?

If you have a damaged tooth accompanied by pain or swelling in and around the area, you may need root canal treatment.  

Without root canal treatment there is a high risk of infection, development of an abscess, and eventually loss of the tooth.

If an infection is left untreated the teeth surrounding the area may also be affected.

What Happens During a Root Canal Procedure?

Root canal treatment may require two or more appointments.

If the repair is particularly complex, you may be referred to an endodontist; a specialist in root canal treatment.

Before the procedure, a series of dental X-rays will be taken to assess the damage and to obtain a clear picture of the tooth canal, the root, and the nerve.

The procedure is normally carried out under local anaesthesia.

In certain cases where the nerve has died, it may not be necessary to use a local anaesthetic as the area will not be sensitive to pain.

Root Canal Procedure

root canal treatment explained

The first step is to remove the soft tissue in the centre of the canal through an opening in the crown of the tooth made by the dentist.  

If there is an abscess the dentist will drain it and thoroughly clean the inside of the canal.

Next, the dentist will use special tools to enlarge the narrow cavity to form a regular shape that is easier to fill.

Depending on the severity of the damage, the procedure could take several hours to complete which may need more than one visit.

The more roots there are the longer the treatment will take.

Front incisors and canine teeth normally have only one root while pre-molars and back molars have two or more. Each root may contain one or more root canals.

If the treatment requires more than one visit, the cavity will be treated to prevent infection, sealed with a temporary filling, and you will be given medication for pain.

If there are symptoms of infection such as excessive swelling or a raised temperature the dentist will prescribe antibiotics.

This is to help kill the bacteria and prevent further infection.

At the next visit, the temporary filling will be removed and the tooth canal will be thoroughly cleaned of all remaining debris and infection.

From there to tooth will be filled and permanently sealed.

After root canal treatment the tooth will be more susceptible to disintegration and you may need to have a crown fitted to protect it.

A crown will completely cover the affected tooth, preventing it from fracturing.

During root canal treatment the size of the tooth will be reduced and a crown will be formed to resemble the shape and size of the normal tooth before treatment.

In some instances, the tooth enamel may darken, particularly where there has been trauma as a result of an injury that has caused the nerve to die.

There are several tooth whitening treatments such as chemicals and lasers to treat discolouration and your dentist will recommend the best solution for you.

Root canal treatment is commonly done to clear infection of the roots and to save a tooth.

Studies have found that 90% of teeth with root canal treatment survived between 8 and 10 years.

It was also found that crowns used to protect root canal treated teeth were an important factor in the improvement of tooth survival rates.

If you think you might need a root canal, or have any pain with your teeth and would like a professional opinion, then Vineyard Dental Clinic is here to help.

Vineyard Dental Clinic offers a full array of dental services in Sunbury to help you and your family maintain healthy teeth.

We work with our patients to find the most suitable solution to their unique issues.

To learn more about the services we provide, contact us today on (03) 9740 2048  or through our website http://vineyarddental.com.au/