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Root Canal Treatment

A last-ditch attempt at saving your natural tooth

iStock_000024271727_FullYour natural teeth are the biggest factor for a confident and healthy smile. They also allow you to speak and eat with ease. Chewing and swallowing food are much more comfortable when you have natural teeth. Thus, preserving your natural teeth is very important.

When a tooth is inflamed, badly damaged or infected, a root canal treatment or endodontic treatment is usually recommended. This procedure saves and restores an average of 17 million teeth each year. According to the American Association of Endodontists, more than 14 million root canal treatments are performed each year, with 80% – 95% success rate.

What is root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment is a procedure used to repair a damaged or decayed tooth, wherein the infected nerve or pulp inside the root canal is removed. The root canal is then cleaned, shaped and sealed to prevent bacteria from entering.

Most people dread the idea of a root canal treatment, but the procedure itself is actually no more painful than routine dental treatments performed under local anaesthesia.

What is dental pulp?Dental implantation procedure

The dental pulp is the soft area within the centre of the tooth that consists of nerves, connective tissue and blood vessels. When the pulp is traumatised and infected – whether due to exposure to oral bacteria because of deep decay or dental caries, repeated dental procedures such as tooth fillings, or a fracture in the tooth – it breaks down, and bacteria can multiply within the pulp chamber, causing an infection. It can also cause swelling that may spread to other areas of the face, neck or head.

When do I need a root canal treatment?

While pain is usually the first sign that there is something wrong with your tooth, your dentist will confirm whether or not you need a root canal treatment. Below are some of the signs and symptoms that you and your dentist may observe which may establish the need for a root canal procedure:iStock_000022776223_Medium

  • Severe and prolonged pain when chewing
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
  • Darkening or discoloration of the tooth
  • Gum swelling and tenderness
  • Recurring pimple on the gums

There are instances where no signs and symptoms are present. Thus, dental X‐rays are very important.

How does a root canal procedure work?

The root canal treatment can be performed either by a general dentist or an endodontist – a dentist who specialises in root canal treatments and diseases of tooth pulp. The procedure usually requires a number of visits to the dentist, who will first take an X‐ray of the tooth to determine the shape of the root canal and to see if there is any infection in the surrounding bone.

  • Although not necessary in some cases, the dentist will administer local 3D white people. Dentist with tooth sectionanaesthesia to numb the area and to make the patient feel more comfortable. To keep the area dry during treatment, a latex barrier called a rubber dam is placed around the tooth.
  • The dentist will then drill an access hole into the tooth so he can remove the pulp together with the decayed nerve tissue, debris and bacteria from the tooth using root canal files.
  • He will scrape and scrub the sides of the root canal using a series of files of increasing diameter, working down the full length of the tooth, and using antibacterial solutions to flush away the debris.
  • When the tooth is finally thoroughly cleaned, and depending on the condition of the tooth, the dentist will seal it. If there is an infection, a medication is first placed inside the tooth. Sometimes, the dentist may wait for a week for the infection to clear up before sealing the tooth.
  • Further restoration of the tooth or additional dental work, such as placement of a post and core followed by a crown, is often done after a root canal treatment.

Is there a possibility of complications?

While a root canal treatment can last you a lifetime, there are instances in which new infections or complications may occur. A root canal treatment can fail due to incomplete cleaning and unsuccessful or inefficient sealing. Root canals sometimes have very minute branches that can be hard to detect or access, and there are instances when one of these branches may be overlooked and not treated, which may cause an infection. A crack that has formed within the tooth, inadequate dental restoration, and deterioration of the seal are also some of the possible reasons for the failure of a root canal treatment.

If any of these happen, the dentist may suggest re‐treatment or extraction of the tooth. In some cases, endodontic surgery, such as apicoectomy, can be done to preserve the tooth – the gum tissue is opened, the infected tissue is removed, and then the root canal is sealed again.

What should I expect after the treatment?

If there was infection, the tooth may feel sensitive and uncomfortable a few days after the procedure. The dentist would usually prescribe over‐the‐counter pain reliever, and the patient can immediately go back to his daily routine the following day. To avoid complications, the patient is advised not to chew with the treated tooth until it is fully restored.

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Dr Gregory Kasdan is a Dentist with Unity Denticare (Ang Mo Kio and Orchard clinics).
Posted by ezyhealth on Mar 5 2015. Filed under Dental Health. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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