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.
For a regular dental checkup, please contact our friendly Lane Cove dental team on (02) 9420 5050. Our practice is located at 1 Finlayson St Lane Cove NSW 2066. If you are interested in more details about RCT at Apple Dental, please check out our root canal treatment page.