Root Canal Treatment
What is a Root Canal Treatment?
Root canal treatment can be thought of as a more advanced tooth filling extending down the roots of the tooth (i.e., root canals). During this procedure, the dentist removes the pulp (pulpectomy) and cleans out the tooth down to its roots. The tooth is thoroughly disinfected using special medicaments in order to remove any harmful microorganisms. Finally, the root canal space is filled with a specialised root filling material and the tooth is subsequently restored with a filling and/or a crown. The entire treatment can require one or more appointments, depending on the complexity of the case.
When is a root canal treatment required?
Root canal treatment is most commonly performed when decay has spread deep into the pulp of the tooth. The pulp is the core of the tooth which contains connective tissue, blood vessels, and nerves. When this happens, a normal filling will be inadequate in removing diseased tissue. Left untreated, the harmful microorganisms present can cause the tooth to ‘die’, an abscess, serious infection, and lead to eventual tooth loss.
A root canal is also performed in some cases where dental trauma has occurred and where the tooth is cracked.
How do I know that I may need a root canal treatment?
The presence of one or more of the following may indicate that you have a tooth requiring a root canal treatment:
- Tooth sensitivity to cold and/or hot
- Sudden, throbbing toothache that lingers
- Tooth tenderness when biting/chewing
- Presence of decay/defective filling
- Dental abscess with/without sinus tract (appears like a pimple on the gums)
In some cases, a tooth which requires a root canal may not show any symptoms initially.
How about simply extracting a diseased tooth?
Root canal treatment is used to save a tooth that could otherwise have been removed (extracted). While removing a diseased tooth may seem like a quick-fix for some, it is important to note that losing a tooth can lead to significant problems for adjacent teeth. Its replacement may ultimately be more costly. It is important to have a discussion with your dentist to explore the various possible options in order to decide on a plan which is best suited for you.