You need a root canal! The last thing people want to hear when they visit their dentist.
Despite the stories you may have heard, the reputation of pain that some people associate with having a root canal is really not deserved. For the majority of people who undergo this treatment the experience itself would be comparable to having a filling replaced though it takes longer!
What is a Root Canal Treatment?
Also called endodontics, root canal treatment is the process of removing the infected, injured or dead pulp from a tooth and disinfecting and then filling the root canal system.
Teeth are made up of three hard layers:
There is a space inside the hard layers of each tooth. It is called the root canal system and it is filled with soft dental pulp made of nerves and blood vessels that help the tooth grow and develop. Once a tooth is fully- grown, it can survive without a pulp. If the pulp of a tooth becomes infected, a root canal (or endodontic treatment) is needed. When this is performed, the pulp is removed.
During your regular check-up, your dentist checks for infection and damage to teeth, even though you may not notice any signs of tooth trouble. If you notice a problem with a tooth, do not wait until it hurts. Call your dentist as soon as you injure a tooth or notice a cavity or loose filling. If you get attention quickly, there is a better chance that damage can be prevented and the tooth saved.
When Root Canal Treatment is Needed
The pulp inside a tooth can be damaged by cracks in the tooth, deep cavities or accidents. Germs (or bacteria) can get into the tooth and lead to infected tooth pulp. This situation may cause pain and/or swelling. Sometimes, the pulp becomes infected or dies, but does not cause any pain.
Your dentist may notice:
If a great deal of dental work is needed, your dentist can tell from your exam and x-rays that the pulp of the tooth is not likely to survive. In all these cases, root canal treatment can ease or prevent symptoms, and save the tooth.
- Changes in the colour of the tooth,
- Changes in your gums, or
- Changes picked up by a dental x-ray.
Root canal treatment may be completed in one appointment, or it may take two or more visits. It depends on the complexity of the root canal system and on the degree of pulp damage.
After a root canal, your tooth has to be fixed (or restored) to look, feel and work as much like a natural tooth as possible. In most cases a crown will be recommended because chewing puts a great deal of force on your teeth so covering up the root canaled tooth would be the best way to protect it.
You can still get a cavity or gum disease after a root canal. It does not protect your tooth from other types of damage.
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