Endodontic (or root canal) therapy can help prevent the loss of a tooth that results from injury to the dental pulp.
The pulp of a tooth is a soft tissue that contains mostly nerves and a blood supply. When the pulp is diseased or injured and unable to repair itself, it dies.
The most common causes of pulp injury are fracture, a deep cavity, or trauma.
Pain and swelling can accompany pulp disease, or the tooth may be completely free of symptoms. Once the pulp is determined to be diseased, it is necessary to remove the damaged tissue to avoid injury to the bone that anchors the tooth to the jaw.
What does root canal treatment involve?
- An anaesthetic is normally used so that you will be comfortable during treatment. An opening is made through the crown of the tooth into the pulp chamber.
- The pulp is carefully removed from the tooth. The root canals will be cleaned, enlarged and shaped to a form that can be easily filled. The root canal is filled and sealed with a material that prevents bacteria from re-entering the canal.
- A temporary filling will be placed in the opening in the crown to protect the pulp chamber between appointments. Bits of this filling may come out between appointments. As long as the bulk of the material is present, the tooth is protected.
Treatment usually requires one to three appointments, however each tooth presents individual problems and must be treated accordingly. After the root canal therapy is completed, two more steps are normally necessary to save the tooth. The first is a build-up of a filling material, which strengthens the tooth and restores it to its original form. The second is a crown, which minimizes the risk of fracture. Once a root canal has been filled, the tooth must be restored within a short period of time. Root canal treatment without a final restoration is NOT complete and NOT recommended.
Recent research has shown that use of anti-inflammatory drugs minimizes the occurrence of pain and swelling during and after treatment.