Endodontics - Root Canal Therapy
The Anatomy of Your Tooth
The inside the chamber of your tooth is a small, hollow space called the pulp chamber, which further branches into one or more even smaller canals of the roots. This tissue is known as the pulp, and it contains nerves, blood vessels, and lymphatic tissues, etc., which are responsible for the nourishment and health of the tooth.
When the pulp is infected by the bacteria from tooth decay, it triggers off an inflammatory response called pulpitis, e.g., it causes hyperactivity of the blood vessels as a normal body defense mechanism to fend off the bacterial invasion. It is this sudden rise of the hydraulic blood pressure within the confined pulp space that causes an excruciating toothache. If the pulpitis is left untreated, the bacterial infection will spread to the jawbone and lead to an abscess.
What Does Endodontic Treatment (RCT) Involve?
Firstly, the tooth will be cleared of all decay and restored soundly before an access cavity is created to reach the pulp and the canals. Once all existing canals of the tooth are located, x-rays will be taken to identify their lengths and anatomical features. The canals are then thoroughly debrided and shaped internally using special root canal instruments called reamers and files. Medicated irrigants are used to flush out all the infected debris in the canals, and an antibacterial dressing is placed in the canals for complete disinfection between treatment sessions.
At the final appointment, the canals are sealed with root filling material called gutta percha, a plant extract. The tooth is now ready to be restored permanently with a crown.
Typically the entire root canal process will take 2-3 sessions depending on the complexity of the canal systems. Sometimes a single appointment is all you need if the tooth does not show an established infection.
Most root-filled teeth will, however, need to be crowned to provide a complete seal and protection of the tooth. This is found to increase long-term success by more than 70 percent.
How Did My Tooth become Infected?
There are many reasons that this can happen, the most common ones are:
- Deep untreated decay that invaded the pulp
- Cracked teeth that allow bacteria to infiltrate the pulp gradually
- Extensive dental fillings, which fail to seal and protect the pulp
- History of trauma, i.e., a severe knock in sports
- Heavy grinding over an extended period, as this can diminish the blood supply to the tooth
Benefits of Root Canal Treatment
There are a number of reasons to save your natural tooth with root canal treatment. For one thing, it will help you continue to chew naturally. A root filled tooth will also ensure that you have a normal bite and natural sensation when you bite and eat.
A root canal can also help you preserve your natural appearance. It also helps to protect other teeth from strain and excessive wear.
With an endodontic treatment, you retain your natural smile. The alternative of removing the tooth and replacing it with a dental bridge or an implant is many times more costly.
If you take care of the tooth that has a root canal, it should last as long as your other natural teeth.