Root Canal or Endodontic Treatment
What is endodontic treatment?
Endodontic treatment – more commonly known as a root canal – is a common method used by dentists to save a patient’s tooth.
How do you know if you need a root canal?
It’s likely that the first sign of you needing a root canal will be discomfort or pain. This can be completely spontaneous, or it can occur from factors such as hot or cold foods and drinks. You might also experience pain when you bite down or put pressure on the area.
You may also notice swelling of the gum around the tooth in question, pus or swelling.
Occasionally, you won’t experience any pain or discomfort at all, but your dentist will detect the issue during routine x-rays and exams. That’s one reason why it’s important to visit your dentist regularly, even if you feel fine.
Once pain occurs, you should book an appointment with your dentist, who will take a look at the tooth and may take scans to understand exactly what’s causing the issue. At this point, you’ll book in for a root canal soon after to fix the problem.
The cause of these issues can be a number of reasons, from dental decay or gum disease to trauma or tooth grinding. No matter the cause, the reason you will need a root canal is because the tooth needs treatment in order to save it.
What happens during endodontic treatment?
Firstly, it’s important to understand the anatomy of a tooth. While each tooth has a hard exterior, the hollow inside is filled with nerves, blood vessels and pulp. This pulp is what provides nutrients, oxygen and feeling in the tooth, and is what keeps it ‘alive’. When this pulp becomes infected or damaged, it will need to be removed. The space it once occupied, will need to be filled. Together, this forms a process known as “endodontic treatment.”
As this pulp largely exists to help the tooth’ growth throughout childhood, it can be replaced with a filling without affecting a fully grown adult tooth. To do this, a dentist will remove the pulp and clean out the roots, then fill the space with a rubber-like material.
To finish, the dentist will add a layer of regular filling material to offer protection for the tooth.
What happens after the root canal?
Sometimes a tooth that requires root canal treatment is weakened, so your dentist may recommend a dental crown to strengthen and protect what’s left of the tooth’s structure.
A filled tooth is usually strong and durable, but nothing is as good as a healthy one, so it’s important to take proper care of it after treatment.
You will need to brush and floss around the tooth as you would with other teeth in order to keep it clean and healthy.
In most cases, you will need to visit your dentist again nine months to a year after the root canal treatment. The reason you wait is to ensure that the tooth is healthy and isn’t giving you any discomfort, as can happen if the canal becomes infected following the procedure. After this time, many people will require an artificial crown to ensure the strongest possible protection for the tooth. You will have a choice of gold, porcelain or other materials.
Also note that while a normal tooth will be a yellow-white colour, a tooth that has undergone endodontic treatment will eventually take on a greyish tinge. This may not be an issue if the tooth is located at the back of the mouth, but should it become a cosmetic issue, you can talk with your dentist about possible solutions to keep the tooth looking healthy and white.
If you would like more information on root canal treatment or to book an appointment, please contact the Wendouree Dental team on 03 5339 3770.