Root Canal Therapy
Root canal refers to the natural central cavity that all teeth have. It houses the nerves and the pulp. The nerves in the root canal may develop an infection due to tooth decay or external trauma. Root canal therapy is a procedure which is used to get rid of the infected pulp from a tooth in order to prevent it from being extracted. In most cases, other treatment methods are used to restore the tooth to its natural shape and health. But if no treatment method can fix the tooth, then root canal therapy is used as a last resort method to save it.
Common causes which lead to a root canal infection
- Microbes such as bacteria and fungi get accumulated on the surface of teeth. They lead to the formation of plaque and tartar. The bacteria release acids which damage the enamel of the teeth. Then, they enter the root canal and infect the nerves and pulp.
- Sometimes, gum diseases such as periodontal infect the pulp of the tooth.
- External trauma may sometimes lead to an exposed root canal. The exposed pulp could get infected due to the bacteria in the mouth.
What are the commonly encountered symptoms of a root canal infection?
- Pain in the tooth and the gums. The pain would especially be high while chewing food and brushing the teeth.
- Bleeding from the gums.
- Formation of an abscess on the surface of the gums.
- The gums may turn red, appear swollen and release pus.
- The tooth would be highly sensitive to hot and cold foods.
- There would be a loss of bone near the tip of the tooth root.
- Just like all dental procedures, a screening process is carried out prior to starting the therapy. An x-ray of the infected tooth is taken to determine the extent of damage caused to the tooth and the underlying jawbone. If the pulp is found to be too infected to be treated with the help of medication, then the dentist suggests the patient go for a root canal therapy.
- As this is a surgical procedure, local anesthesia will be used to numb the tooth and the gums as well. Saliva has to be restrained from entering the operating area. Hence, a rubber sheath is used to keep the tooth free from saliva.
- A high precision dental drilling machine is used to drill a hole into the tooth. Next, the infected pulp has to be removed from the tooth and the tooth has to be disinfected. Dental files of varying diameters are used to remove the pulp. They're inserted into the hole one after the other. After all the infected pulp has been removed, the walls of the root canal will then be scrubbed in order to remove the residual bacteria and a jet of water is used to remove the debris.
- The hole will then be sealed with the help of filling, after a small amount of medication has been applied to the cavity. A crown will be used to cover the tooth, as a tooth which has undergone a root canal therapy would be vulnerable to failure. Hence, the crown helps hold it intact.
The success rate of a root canal therapy is very high. It often helps in saving the tooth, though the sensation of the tooth is lost forever as the pulp is removed from the tooth.