What is root canal procedure?
Root canal procedure (also called endodontics) is needed when the blood and nerve supply of a tooth (known as the pulp) is damaged due to decay or injury.
Why is root canal treatment needed?
If the pulp becomes damaged, it can die and cause infection. This infection may spread through the tooth into the surrounding gum tissue, which results in an abscess (gum boil). If root canal treatment is not done this infection can spread to your body. Furthermore, the tooth will eventually need to be taken out.
What does the root canal procedure involve?
The aim of the treatment is to remove all infection from the tooth canal. First, you are given dental freezing to make sure the area is completely numb. A rubber dam is placed to isolate the tooth. Decay and infection are removed from the canals by mini brushes and medicinal solutions. Once the canal is cleaned it is filled with a sterile substance to prevent any further infection. The tooth is monitored and once all signs and symptoms are gone the tooth can be restored with a permanent restoration such as a crown.
What will my tooth look like after treatment?
In the past, a root filled tooth would often darken after treatment. However, with modern techniques, this does not usually happen. If there is any discoloration, there are several treatments available to restore the natural appearance.
Are there alternatives to root canal treatment?
The alternative is to have the tooth extracted. Once the pulp is damaged, it cannot heal and it is not recommended to leave an infected tooth in the mouth. An extraction is an option however when a tooth is removed you get bone loss and possible drifting of adjacent teeth. It is usually best to keep as many natural teeth as possible.
What about aftercare?
Root-treated teeth should be treated just the same as any other tooth. Remember to clean your teeth at least twice a day, preferably with fluoridated toothpaste. Floss at least once a day and see your dentist for regular check-ups every six to nine months.