The root of the problem
Also called endodontics, root canal treatment is the process of removing the infected, injured, or dead pulp from the tooth. Pulp, the soft tissue containing nerves and blood vessels, runs through the center or root canal of the tooth.
What to watch for
Your tooth’s pulp can become infected by a deep cavity or gum disease. Watch for signs of a tooth becoming discoloured or for pain and swelling around a tooth. Your tooth can also become damaged by an injury. If your tooth is badly broken, it is often necessary to perform a root canal.
Call your Dentist
Don’t wait until it hurts. Call your dentist as soon as you experience symptoms or have an injury. Your dentist can almost always repair or save your tooth. Timely attention to a broken tooth or to signs of pulp damage is important to ensure that root canal treatment is successful and your tooth can be saved.
There may, in some cases, not be any obvious signs of damage. Your dentist looks for infection and damage to your teeth during regular dental visits. Frequently, only a dental x-ray can detect the need for root canal treatment.
Here’s how it’s done
Your dentist makes a small hole in your tooth. This exposes the root canal and the damaged pulp. Local anesthetic is usually, but not always, required.
Your dentist removes the damaged pulp and enlarges the root canal by carefully cleansing it with precision instruments. You may be given antibiotics to prevent infection.
Once the root canal has been cleaned of all damaged pulp, it is filled and sealed with a special material. The root canal treatment is now complete. However, your tooth still needs to be restored to its normal function and appearance.
Your dentist may bleach, fill, or crown your tooth. The restorative treatment selected will depend on the extent of the discolouration or damage involved, and on which tooth root canal treatment has been performed. Most back teeth need to be repaired with a crown.
Some people may experience mild swelling or discomfort after root canal treatment. If this occurs, call your dentist. He may prescribe medication or recommend additional treatment.
Why Root Canal?
Successful root canal treatment lets you keep your tooth.
The only alternative is to have your tooth removed.
Dentists today believe that the best teeth are your own, and they do their utmost to make sure you don’t lose any.
Retaining your tooth has short and long-term benefits. It helps to prevent neighboring teeth from drifting out of line and causing jaw problems or gum disease.
Saving natural teeth avoids more extensive and expensive replacement treatments, such as bridges or implants.
Root canal treatment is sometimes the only way to save a tooth. Severe damage to a tooth – may be the result of a deep cavity, gum disease, or an injury – can usually only be repaired by root canal treatment. Successful treatment mans you can keep your tooth.
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