Root Canal Treatment – What Does It Entail?
Endodontic treatment in Chelmsford can help to save an infected tooth root
The field of endodontics is one of the specialised treatments that we are able to provide at Blue Sky Dental. The word comes from a combination of two ancient Greek words meaning ‘inside’ and ‘tooth’.
From this, you might correctly deduce that this means dealing with problems that arise within the tooth, rather than just tooth decay. Although decay can be a factor in this; something we will discuss shortly, endodontics is predominantly concerned with infections within the root canals of the tooth.
Despite the misguided and unfortunate reputation this treatment has sometimes had, it offers an excellent chance to save a tooth that has become infected in this way and which would otherwise have to be extracted. The treatment does not deserve its fearsome reputation either and we will discuss that in a moment.
How do root canals become infected?
Infections of the root canal usually start with damage to the protective enamel exterior of the tooth. This is a strong material, but when it becomes cracked, chipped or decay sets in, it allows bacteria to enter and whilst this mostly leads to tooth decay, the infection can continue until it reaches the root canals, especially if early intervention is not carried out. As the bacteria reach the root canals, it can infect the soft pulp material stored there. This includes the tiny blood vessels and nerves which means that significant levels of pain are quite possible.
Once infected, the only alternative to tooth extraction is to treat it with a root canal procedure. You may occasionally be given antibiotics, for instance, where a procedure isn’t immediately possible for medical reasons. This will not ‘cure’ the problem though but can keep it under control until the root canal treatment can take place.
What happens during a root canal procedure?
In order to access the root canals, our experienced Chelmsford dentists will need to remove the top section of the tooth. This will obviously be performed with a strong local anaesthetic. Once this has been done, the infected soft pulp material will be removed and the hollowed out canals then cleaned to remove any remaining infection. Once we are satisfied that this has been done, we can start to restore the tooth.
To do this, the hollow canals are filled with a material called gutta percha. This is used for its excellent sealant properties which greatly reduce the risk of reinfection. Once this part of the treatment has been carried out, we will usually provide the tooth with extra strength and protection by adding a crown. This completes the treatment.
Does a root canal procedure hurt?
Like many invasive dental treatments, there is likely to be some element of discomfort although this mostly stems from the fear that it is going to hurt, rather than any physical pain. The fact is that the local anesthetic that we use means that you shouldn’t feel any pain but you may experience some sensations caused by the dental drill. These are entirely normal and shouldn’t be of any concern. There is no reason why a root canal treatment should cause more discomfort than most other invasive dental treatments but if you are concerned, please talk to the dentist to let them know.
The post treatment tooth
Having saved the tooth from needing to be extracted, it is important that the patient is aware of a couple of things.
Firstly, as the nerves have been removed, the tooth will have no sensation. This is only a problem in that it can be more difficult to judge how hard you are biting down on something. It is probably a good idea to eat softer foods for a short while to get used to the new tooth. We also advise that, for this reason, you avoid using that tooth to bite on harder foods although it should be strong enough for general eating. Secondly, although the tooth is in effect a ‘dead’ tooth and you can’t experience a toothache as there are no nerves left, you do still need to take good care of the tooth and especially the surrounding gum tissue. Gum disease could still cause the tooth to become unstable so do make sure that you brush it well and use dental floss to clean around it.
The use of endodontic treatment to save an infected tooth is a well established one. Despite this though, we are aware that some of our Chelmsford patients may have heard exaggerated claims about how painful it is. We are always happy to talk you through any procedure so that you are aware of what we are doing. We find that, for many patients, this helps to ease any anxieties they might have. Please do let us know if you have any questions or concerns about your treatment.
For dentist appointment enquiries, you can contact Blue Sky Dental either via the form on the website or by calling us on 01245 211070.