Root canal therapy is necessary when the nerve of a tooth is plagued by decay or infection. To save the tooth, the infected pulp (the living tissue within the tooth), nerves, bacteria, and any signs of decay are removed and the remaining space is filled with medication and dental fillings, which restore the tooth to its full function.
Having a root canal done on a tooth is a choice to save the tooth that would otherwise die and need to be removed. Many patients believe that removing a tooth which has problems is the solution, but what’s not realized is that removing a tooth will ultimately be more expensive and cause significant problems for neighbouring teeth. The jawbone requires a tooth root to maintain bone mass and prevent drifting and movement of remaining teeth. In most cases, it is better and less expensive to restore existing teeth rather than remove them.
Root canal treatment is highly successful and usually lasts a lifetime, though off and on, a tooth will need to be retreated due to new infection.
Symptoms of a possible infection:
- A pustule (or blister) on the gums
- Sensitivity to hot and cold
- Severe toothache pain
- On occasion no symptoms exist
- Swelling and/or soreness
Reasons for root canal treatment:
- Decay has reached the tooth pulp (the living tissue within the tooth)
- Infection or pustules have developed within the tooth or at the root tip
- Injury or trauma to the tooth
What does root canal treatment involve?
A root canal requires one or two appointments and can be performed by Dr. Calder or an endodontist (tooth pulp specialist). While the tooth is numb, a rubber dam will be placed around the tooth to keep it dry and clear of spit. An access opening is shaped on top of the tooth and root canal files are placed into the opening, one at a time, removing the pulp, nerve tissue, and bacteria. If tooth rot is present, it will also be removed with special dental instruments.
Once the tooth is cleaned and disinfected, it will be sealed with either an enduring filling or, if more appointments are needed, a transient filling. At the follow-up appointment, ordinarily seven days later, the roots and the interior hole of the tooth will be filled and sealed with special dental materials.
In addition, all teeth that have had root canal treatment should have a crown (cap) placed. This will protect the tooth and stop it from breaking, and revive it to its full function. After treatment, your tooth may still be sensitive, but this will subside as the soreness lessens and the tooth has healed.