Root Canal Therapy

Your dentist has recommended that your tooth undergo root canal or endodontic treatment. The aim of this treatment is to save the tooth that has been damaged due to decay, disease or injury.

It is preferable to save this tooth, rather than extract it because your own tooth will function better than any artificial replacement. Your natural tooth is usually stronger and more efficient for biting and chewing. Cleaning and maintenance is also much easier and therefore less likely to have a negative impact on the remaining dentition.

If the tooth was extracted and not replaced, problems with biting, chewing and general oral health may arise in the future. For example neighboring teeth can drift into the extraction space created, leading to a change in the alignment of all teeth. This may in turn cause biting to become less efficient as forces are not transmitted optimally through the teeth.

Root Canal Treatment is required because bacteria have entered the root canal through a defect in the outer protective layers of enamel and cementum (diagram) – such as dental caries, leaking restoration margins, cracks or fractures. The bacteria irritate the pulp (nerves and blood vessels of the tooth) causing it to become inflamed and later die. An infection then develops within the tooth, spreading via the tip of the root to cause a reaction in the surrounding bone. This reaction may be chronic (slow) or acute (sudden) in nature depending on your defense systems’ ability to balance the situation. Symptoms may arise such as pain (ache, throb), sensitivity to cold or heat, tooth discoloration and swelling and tenderness in the surrounding gum and bone.

The stages of root canal therapy

The process of endodontic treatment is divided into two stages; cleaning and shaping the root canals and subsequently filling them up. The first stage may be completed in one appointment or may require multiple visits depending on the complexity of the root canal system. Anti-bacterial medications may be placed in the root canals between visits to help stop the infection. Oral antibiotics may also be prescribed if a severe abscess has formed at the root tip. Pain or discomfort following treatment is rare, but if present may be treated with mild painkillers such as paracetomol or aspirin. If pain persist for more than a few days contact the surgery.

The second stage of treatment involves filling the root canals and sealing off the pulp chamber to prevent further infection. A post may be inserted into a canal to support an artificial crown. An endodontically treated tooth is usually at increased risk of fracture and thus may require the increased protection, strength and further seal of a crown.

At the completion of root canal treatment the tooth is no longer alive however it remains functional as part of your dentition. The tooth must be looked after the same way all other teeth are maintained.

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For enquiries related to gum disease and how to take the next step to treating this issue, call us on (03) 9311 1056 or Book An Appointment Online.

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