Root canal treatment saves millions of teeth from infection and decay every year. Soft tissue, called the pulp, is located underneath the enamel and dentin layers of your teeth. This tissue is made up of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue and plays a pivotal role in growing and developing teeth.
When tooth decay allows bacteria to infect the pulp, it can cause severe discomfort, making it difficult to chew or bite. Infection may spread to other teeth or different areas of the body, causing serious medical issues, such as permanent damage to your teeth, roots, and facial bones.
Root canal treatment is needed to stem any potential infection. So, what is a root canal?
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal refers to a treatment where the infected or inflamed pulp is removed from the centre of your tooth. The canals are then cleaned and disinfected before being sealed with a natural latex material called gutta-percha, then a filling. In most cases, your dentist may recommend a dental crown to protect and strengthen the tooth structure.
When is Root Canal Treatment Needed?
Root canal treatment is needed when your tooth pulp is injured, infected, or inflamed. The pulp may become damaged through:
- Tooth decay from untreated cavities
- Excessive grinding or clenching of teeth
- Chips or cracks in teeth, allowing bacteria to enter the soft tissue
- An abscess on the tooth root
- A facial injury that causes damage to the tooth
While a cracked, chipped, broken, or decayed tooth is easy to spot, pulp damage isn’t always obvious to the naked eye. Impact on your tooth can cause harm to the pulp without visible signs of damage.
Symptoms of pulp damage that show you may need a root canal procedure include:
- Tooth pain
- Sensitivity to hot and cold food and drinks
- Discomfort when chewing or biting
- Gum or facial swelling
- Pus oozing from the infected area
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms, book an appointment with A2Z Dental. One of our dentists can examine your teeth and gums using X-rays and the latest dental equipment to provide you with a precise diagnosis.
What is a Root Canal? The Procedure
If a root canal procedure is prescribed, you will undergo treatment in a four-step process that is typically completed in one or two dental visits:
The first step in a root canal procedure is to apply an anaesthetic. You will remain awake throughout the treatment, so a local anaesthetic ensures you experience minimal discomfort.
Removing the Pulp
When the anaesthetic takes effect, your dentist opens the tooth crown, exposing the damaged pulp. The dentist uses equipment called root canal files to enter the access incision and clear out the pulp, bacteria, and other potentially harmful materials from the tooth canals. We use a combination of sodium hypochlorite and water to clear excess debris from the area.
When the removal part of the root canal procedure is complete, we may apply a topical antibiotic to eradicate bacteria and prevent the area from being reinfected.
Filling the Tooth
Depending on your circumstances, we will then fill your tooth with a temporary or permanent filling. It is often beneficial to apply a temporary filling for a week or two to ensure reinfection doesn’t occur. Once we are happy that the treatment is successful, we can book you for a permanent filling or dental crown for long term protection.
Don’t Ignore Toothache: Contact A2Z Dental
If you’re wondering, ‘what is a root canal?’, you may be experiencing discomfort or symptoms of pulp damage. Don’t let the problem escalate further by ignoring the signs, as it may lead to long term issues. At A2Z Dental, we provide a range of quality dental services, including root canal treatment, so get in touch today.
Book an appointment online, try our virtual consultation service, or call us on these numbers.
Note: Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.