What is root canal treatment?
As tooth decay progresses, it can reach the nerves inside the tooth, which leads to the inflammation of the pulp. When this happens, the circulation of the tooth stops, and bacteria spreads to the gum and the jawbone surrounding the teeth, which can cause an abscess.
When can root canal treatment be used?
In case of severe tooth decay, root canal treatment is used in order to save a tooth with infected pulp. The pulp is the soft tissue at the center of the tooth that contains the nerves and is surrounded by dentine. The infection can be caused by inflammation of the tooth or physical trauma.
Dentine is the hard tissue of the tooth. It surrounds the pulp and from the outside it is covered by enamel on the crown and cementum on the root.
In case of severe tooth decay, root canal treatment can save the tooth from extraction and prolong the life of the natural teeth of the patient. In the past, tooth with severe decay almost always had to be extracted, but these days they can be effectively be preserved by a root canal treatment.
Steps of root canal treatment
First, the dentist makes a small opening on the crown of the tooth and removes the infected pulp. Since this is done under local anesthesia, the treatment is completely painless. After cleaning the root canal the dentist enlarges it with special files, so it can be easily filled.
In some cases, when the root canal treatment is carried out over multiple sessions, the dentist may place medication in the cleaned canal to kill any remaining bacteria and seals the tooth with a temporary filling.
During the following visit, the medication and the temporary filling is removed, and the root canal filling is placed. Last but not least, the dentist seals the tooth with a filling or a dental crown, depending on the extent of the damage.
How long will a root canal treated tooth last?
Devitalized tooth can decay too, therefore practicing good oral hygiene is very important. Brushing your teeth regularly, with a good technique as well as using mouthwash and flossing can go a long way in preserving your oral health. Dental check-ups are recommended at least twice a year, to avoid problems going unnoticed.