You've likely heard the term 'root canal treatment' before but perhaps you're unsure what it actually means. In this post, we're going to discover what a root canal treatment is in quite a bit of detail!
When somebody talks about a root canal treatment, they are usually referring to a dental procedure that is more accurately known as 'endodontic treatment'.
Endodontics being the field of dentistry focusing on the living part of the tooth.
The Root Canals Of Your Tooth
Every tooth has roots anchoring it to the jaw bone. Inside the hard shell of the tooth and its roots are canals containing nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue, all of which being usually referred to as the dental pulp.
These root canals and the pulp it contains are a very important part of your tooth, because it is for example what allows nutrients to enter the tooth and keep it healthy.
Also the pulp has, among others, a major sensory function transmitting information to the brain such as temperature or pressure to prevent you from chewing to hard on too hot or too cold food.
Pulp and Dentin
As blood flows into the tooth to nourish it, the pulp extracts nutrients from it and uses them to produce dentin.
Dentin is basically the same as ivory, and it is the slightly softer material that exists just below the enamel surface of the tooth and covers the pulp. Nerve endings coming from the pulp are running through the dentin in microscopic tunnels linking the enamel to the pulp.
It acts as a shock absorber, so it doesn't do too much damage that when your teeth clash together with moderate force.
When a tooth suffers from decay or because of a trauma, the dentin can be exposed in the mouth and bacteria can use these small tunnels to get into the pulp, infecting it and causing pain.
The best way to relieve this and stop the process before it leads to an abscess is to remove the infected portion of the pulp.
This is exactly what an endodontic treatment is. Although it sounds a bit scary, it actually provides great relief to patients and takes away the pain that results from infected pulp tissue.
Keeping your teeth free from infection is important not only to avoid pain and swelling, but also because the infection can have an impact on your overall state of health.
Modern endodontics focus on removing as little pulp as possible, when possible, as the best root canal treatment is your natural pulp. Unfortunately, very often when detected the infection has already reached the root canals and it's not possible to keep the pulp anymore. This is when you need a root canal treatment.
Root Canal Procedure
The procedure firstly involves the application of anaesthetic to reduce the pain sensation.
The tooth is then isolated from the rest of the mouth with some surgical cloth exactly like any other operation. Using a special microscope, the caries are removed and an access is created into the root canal.
Then using microscopic thin brush-like instruments, the dentist removes the pulp from the root canals and disinfect them thoroughly. It is a highly technical stage that requires time and skills to respect the individual root canal anatomy of your tooth.
Once everything is clean inside the tooth, the root canals are sealed off to prevent bacteria from getting back inside and sustaining the infection.
The access opening is then filled and the damaged part of the tooth is built back up to restore its full integrity and function. When the damage is very extensive, your endodontist will recommend the restoration of the tooth with a prosthetic crown that is going to act as a shield to prevent a fracture in the future.
When needed, it is usually the only way to save your tooth, eliminate the pain and all symptoms, and ensure your overall health doesn't suffer as a result of the infection.
Once a tooth has been treated with a root canal procedure, it is unable to create new dentin or enamel, so your dentist will not recommend a root canal procedure unless it is absolutely necessary.
Usually it is the only way to save your tooth, eliminate the pain of the condition, and ensure your overall health doesn't suffer as a result of the infection.