Root Canal Treatment or Endodontics
Root canal treatment can save a tooth.
Your teeth are meant to last a lifetime. Years ago, diseased or injured teeth were often pulled out. But today, even if the pulp inside one of your teeth is injured or infected, the tooth often can be saved through root canal (endodontic) treatment.
Endodontics is the branch of dentistry that deals with treating diseases or injuries to the dental pulp.
What happens if the dental pulp is injured?
The pulp is soft tissue inside the tooth that contains blood vessels and nerves. When the pulp is diseased or injured and unable to repair itself, it dies. The most common causes of pulp death are a cracked tooth, a deep cavity, problems with large fillings, or serious injury to the tooth. All of these can allow bacteria to enter into the pulp.
Why should the pulp be removed?
If the problem pulp is not removed, the tissues around the root of the tooth can become infected, often resulting in pain and swelling. An abscess forms. Even if there is no pain, bacteria can damage the bone that anchors the tooth in the jaw. Without treatment, the tooth may have to be extracted.
Removing a tooth can create problems
When a tooth is extracted and not replaced, the teeth around it may shift from their normal position. Shifted teeth may make biting and chewing difficult. They may also make it harder to clean your teeth. Areas that are not cleaned well are more likely to get gum disease.
Root canal treatment can prevent these problems by saving your natural tooth. A natural tooth is always better than a replacement tooth. Root canal treatment is usually less expensive than replacing a tooth.
What does treatment involve?
Root canal treatment involves one or more visits. There are several steps that your dentist will perform to save your tooth. We carry out endodontic treatment using a microscope for high powered magnification of the tooth anatomy. This maximises our chance of success when treating your tooth.
First, your tooth is numbed for your comfort. The dentist will then place a thin sheet of latex rubber over your tooth to keep the tooth isolated from your saliva and to protect your airway from any materials or instruments used during the treatment.
An opening is made through the crown of the tooth into the pulp chamber. The infected or inflamed pulp is then removed. Each root canal is cleaned and shaped so it can be filled.
When your dentist is happy that all the root canal anatomy has been cleaned and prepared, the canal structure will be filled with a rubber-like material to seal it. If your tooth is very infected, it may be necessary to dress the tooth with an antibiotic paste and a temporary filling but we find the majority of root canal treatments carried out under high magnification can be completed in a single visit.
Because of the small working environment and the intricacies of each root canal system, root canal treatment is a skilled procedure. We back up these skills by using the latest technology and materials, together with the dental microscope, to ensure that you receive the best endodontic treatment possible.
Do I need to have a crown after root canal treatment?
In order to get access to the pulp chamber and root canals inside the tooth during root canal treatment, your dentist has to remove a considerable amount of tooth substance.
This can weaken the tooth and make it more vulnerable to pressure if the tooth is rebuilt with conventional filling materials. Therefore your dentist may recommend a crown to be put on top of the root filled tooth after the root canal treatment has been completed to protect the tooth from cracking.
At this practice we are able to create a beautiful and strong crown to secure your tooth using the latest advanced technology, E4D. This can be carried out in one visit.
How long will the restored tooth last?
A tooth with a root canal filling can last for years. Teeth with root canal fillings can, however, become decayed or fractured, or get gum disease, just like any other teeth. Daily cleaning and regular exams will help you keep your teeth healthy, whether they have had root canals or not.
I've read that root canal treatment can cause illness - is this true?
Patients searching the Internet for information on root canals may find sites claiming that teeth receiving root canal (endodontic) treatment contribute to the occurrence of illness and disease in the body. This claim is based on long-debunked and poorly designed research performed in the 1920s by Dr Weston A Price. Dr Price stated that bacteria trapped in the teeth during root canal treatment could "leak" and cause almost any type of disease, including arthritis, heart disease, kidney disease and others. This was before medicine understood the causes of these illnesses. At the time, Dr Price recommended tooth extraction instead of endodontic treatment.
The American Association of Endodontists state that there is no valid, scientific evidence linking root canal-treated teeth and disease elsewhere in the body.
In fact, by the early 1930s, a number of well-designed studies discredited Dr Price's research, and no subsequent research has supported Dr Price's findings. In 1951, the Journal of the American Dental Association (ADA) devoted an entire issue to a review of the scientific literature and concluded that there was no evidence supporting Dr Price's theory and that his research techniques from the 1920s lacked many aspects of modern scientific research. The ADA recommended endodontic treatment as the standard of practice for teeth that could be saved. Recent research continues to support the safety of dental treatment as it relates to overall health.
The presence of bacteria in teeth and the mouth has been an accepted fact for many years. But the presence of bacteria does not constitute "infection" and is not necessarily a threat to a person's health. Bacteria are present in the mouth and teeth at all times, even in teeth that have never had a cavity or other trauma. Research shows that the healthy immune system takes care of bacteria in a matter of minutes.
When a severe infection in a tooth requires endodontic treatment, that treatment is designed to eliminate bacteria from the infected root canal and prevent re-infection of the tooth.
Tooth extraction is a potentially traumatic procedure and is known to cause a significantly higher incidence of bacteria entering the bloodstream; endodontic treatment confined to the root canal system produces much less trauma and a much lower incidence and magnitude of bacteria entering the blood stream.
There is no adequate replacement for the natural tooth - it should be saved whenever possible. Endodontic treatment, along with appropriate restoration, is a cost effective way to treat infected teeth because it is usually less expensive than extraction and placement of an implant. In most cases, endodontic treatment allows patients to keep their natural teeth for a lifetime.