What is it and why do we need it?
This is probably the most common procedure known to patients and carried on by dentists for saving a particular infected tooth. The commonest cause for a tooth to get infected is through dental decay, termed as dental caries by us. It is when the decay reaches the pulp (the live vital organ of your tooth) or goes beyond it that it causes pain and makes you rush to your dentist. In chronic cases this may even be asymptomatic. Sometimes, even an intentional root canal treatment is necessary in cases of highly sensitive teeth.
Earlier, a badly infected tooth, or one that just had significant decay, was doomed to be extracted. Today, the majority of these teeth can be salvaged by the Root Canal Treatment. An extraction is truly the last resort!
Some indications of the need for root canal treatment may be:
Root Canal Treatment consists of:
The removal of the infected or irritated nerve tissue that lies within the root of the tooth. It is this infected pulp tissue that causes an eventual abscess.
The first step in a root canal is to obtain access to the nerve. This is accomplished by establishing a small access opening in the top of the tooth. It will be done under a local anesthetic.
The length of the root canal is determined and the infected pulp is removed.
At the same visit, the canal where the nerve is located will be reshaped and prepared to accept a special root canal filling material. The number of visits necessary to complete your root canal will depend upon several factors including the number of nerves in the tooth, the infected state of the nerve, and the complexity of the procedure.
The final step in your root canal will be the sealing of the root canal with a sterile, plastic material called gutta percha. This is done in order to prevent possible future infection.
If treated early, root canal therapy need not be uncomfortable. With the use of local anesthetics, the entire procedure can be totally painless.
The success rates for Root Canal Therapy have been reported to be as high as 95%.
Sometimes when there has been long standing infection or abscess, there may be some soreness associated with the root canal visit. If this should turn out to be true, you will be given specific instructions to follow to minimize the discomfort. When an infection is present, it may be necessary to take an antibiotic. If pain should be present, analgesics may need to be prescribed.
The tooth will then possibly need a post and core and a crown in order to re-establish normal form and function. This decision will be based upon several additional factors.