What is root canal treatment?

Also known as endodontic treatment, root canal therapy is a tooth-saving procedure for those teeth that have been deeply infected. To fully understand the nature of root canal therapy, it is important to understand the anatomy of a tooth. The centre of a tooth contains a soft tissue called pulp. Pulp is made of nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue that help the root of your teeth grow. Protecting the pulp is a hard layer called dentin, which is covered by a layer of white enamel. When a tooth is badly damaged usually due to decay, it is fractured, or the nerve has been exposed, it gets contaminated by bacteria and the nerve of the tooth dies. As bacteria gets into the inside of the tooth where the nerve and blood supply of the tooth is, called the pulp, bacteria start to multiply inside the tooth. Naturally, this can be very painful because the nerve of the tooth is dying.

Why would I need root canal treatment?

As the nerve dies the tooth is very painful, sensitive to hot and cold and spontaneously painful. Over a period of time the pain may subside, but what is happening is that the nerve is dying.

What happens though is the bacteria keeps multiplying inside the tooth, and actually end up with what is known as an abscess. This is occurring at the end of the root and is extremely painful and can be life threatening. The infection is caught inside the jaw bone itself!

Root canal treatment is really a last ditch effort to save a tooth. The tooth is infected, which only really leaves treatment as 2 options; extraction or root canal treatment.

Aside from affecting the health of your mouth, infected tooth roots are often very painful. Root canal treatment will alleviate the toothache that comes with infected pulp. It will also help chewing and speaking, acts that are often difficult with tooth pain and decay. The real benefit of root canal treatment is of course that it will save the natural tooth. If left untreated, the inside of the tooth will continue to decay until it eventually becomes unsalvageable. If this is the case, then you will need a more complex procedure, such as a dental implant, to restore the appearance and function of the teeth.

What causes tooth decay?

The predominant cause of tooth decay is improper or absent oral hygiene. By brushing, flossing and keeping a tooth friendly diet, you can greatly reduce the risk of tooth decay. If not, plaque will further build up on your teeth and produce harmful acids that deteriorate and decay teeth. The key to preventing root canal infection is by having a good oral hygiene routine. Brushing, flossing, avoiding sugary foods and visiting your dentist for regular check-ups are all important parts of keeping your teeth healthy.

Root canal therapy from Advanced Dental Artistry in Perth

The downside of root canal treatment is the teeth become brittle. When a tooth is alive it is actually quite resilient, but when we remove the pulp or the tooth gets infected, the tooth is classified as a dead tooth. The main issue with a dead tooth is it does not have any tissue or a blood supply making it brittle over time.  On the back teeth (molars and premolars) that we do a lot of chewing on, there is a risk of course that if a tooth has had decay, a large filling and then a root canal, there is a good chance the tooth will break or split.

When getting root canal treatment, it is important to consider long-term restoration of the tooth. The best option for this would be a porcelain crown.

The two stages of root canal treatment; removal of infection relieving pain and symptoms, but secondly restoring the tooth so it is strong decreasing the chance of any breakage/fracture of the tooth and or root.

If you would like further information on root canal therapy, or would like to book in for a consultation contact our Morley practice here.

Want more information?

If you have any further questions or queries, don't hesitate to contact us.