Root Canal Therapy
Most people conjure up awful thoughts when they hear these words, but this hides the fact that root canal therapy, or RCT, is responsible for relieving dreadful toothache pain and saving teeth from extraction.
A little background about Root Canal
Teeth are made up mostly of dentine, with a hard enamel outer layer on the crown of the tooth. The inside of the tooth however is hollow, and contains a tissue known as the pulp. The pulp looks very much like gum tissue- with fibres, nerves and blood vessels. The pulp gives life to the tooth.
All is well when the pulp is alive and healthy. However, if it becomes inflamed (known as pulpitis), problems can occur. This can happen either by bacterial infection from tooth decay or cracks, or by trauma from teeth grinding for example. Low grade pulpitis is characterised by sensitivity to cold. Teeth usually recover from this state (although before you start your self-diagnosis, not all cold sensitive teeth have pulpitis). More advanced pulpitis is characterised by greater temperature sensitivity, but also to hot, as well as unprovoked pain which can be quite severe. Teeth don’t recover from this state as the internal pressure within the tooth builds up to the point that blood can lo longer circulate in and out of the tooth. The result is death of the pulp, which eventually leads to a dental abscess in the jaw bone around the ends of the tooth roots.
What is the process of Root Canal Therapy?
RCT is the process involved in removing a dead or dying pulp from a tooth and sealing off the root canals. It is the only alternative to extraction in teeth with dead or dying pulps. The root canals are located through an access hole made on the biting surface of molar teeth, or the back surface of front teeth. An array or quite specialised equipment is then used to measure the exact length of each root canal, clean out the diseased pulp and expand the root canal space. A dressing is then placed into the canals to kill bacteria and reduce inflammation in the jaw bone surrounding the roots. On a following visit, the canals are filled with a plastic, rubbery material. Finally, the tooth is refilled and in most cases, a crown is recommended since dead teeth tend to fracture more easily than living teeth.
Of course, prevention is always better than the cure, so excellent home care and regular dental examinations will help you prevent the need for RCT.
Why Get a Root Canal Treatment?
You May Need Root Canal Therapy to Save an Infected Tooth
Toothache is utterly miserable and is often a sign of an infection deep inside a tooth, right in the pulp. This is the part of the tooth that contains all the nerves which extend right into the root canals in the tooth roots. When infection is present it must be cleared up in order to preserve the tooth and root canal treatment is a very effective way to achieve this.
What to Expect
Here at Apple Dental we use advanced techniques to remove the infected pulp, clearing out all the bacteria in this area, right into the root canals. After disinfecting the area we will place a temporary filling for a few weeks, just to make sure all the infection has cleared up before permanently restoring the tooth with a crown so you can eat and speak normally. Once the tooth is fully restored, it should last for many years although there is always a small risk of re-infection.
We know people are often worried about having root canal treatment, but it should not feel any worse than having a filling. There is a small possibility your tooth may feel slightly sore for a few days afterwards as it settles down. An infected tooth can be extremely painful and this treatment will relieve discomfort. We strongly suggest seeking treatment as soon as you can if you do have a toothache so we can help you. Sometimes it can seem as if the toothache has disappeared but this could be because the infection has killed the nerves in the tooth. Unfortunately the infection can remain and could spread causing an abscess.
If you are interested in more details about RCT at Apple Dental, please check out our root canal treatment page.