Root canal treatment is a type of dental treatment used when the center of a tooth is infected. This center is called the root canal. The procedure is also known as endodontics.
The infection comes from bacteria found in plaque which destroys the tooth. A root canal infection may happen due to;
- A leaky filling
- Tooth decay
- Damaged tooth due to trauma such as after a fall
The root canal system begins at the crown of the tooth and goes all the way to the root. This system consists of dental pulp and one tooth may contain more than one root canal.
When Is Root Canal Treatment Done?
The dentist would first have to take a dental x-ray to confirm that there is a bacterial infection in the pulp. This will show up on the x-ray as damaged pulp. The bacteria kill the pulp which gives the bacteria room to spread and multiply.
Symptoms of Root Canal Infection
There are a few symptoms that indicate the early onset of root canal infection including;
- A loose tooth
- Pain during chewing or biting
- Pain when drinking or eating cold or hot food or drink
The symptoms may disappear for a while if the infection is left untreated. This is because the pulp has died. The symptoms eventually reappear when the infection has spread through the root canal system. The symptoms may include;
- Pus coming out of the affected tooth
- Return of pain when chewing or biting
- Swollen gum around the affected tooth
- Swollen face
- Tooth color turns dark
It is important that you visit your dentist immediately you experience a tooth ache. Bacterial infections do not resolve themselves and actually get worse over time.
What is Root Canal Treatment Like?
The first step of the procedure is to numb your tooth with a local anesthesia. The dentist then uses a drill to make a hole in the tooth. He removes all the dead or diseased pulp. The dentist also shapes the inside of the tooth using a small file and washes away the remaining pulp with water.
The dentist uses a material known as gutta percha or similar material usually made from a rubber-like substance. He then closes up the hole with a temporary filling.
A second appointment is required to remove the temporary filling and fit a permanent crown or other restoration.
It is important that you visit your dentist as soon as possible if you suspect you have a damaged tooth or a cavity. Good oral hygiene and scheduling regular appointments with your dentist also helps to protect your teeth from root canal infections and a host of other dental issues.