Root canal treatment (also called endodontic therapy) is necessary when a cavity is allowed, through neglect, to reach all the way to the nerve inside the tooth. Sometimes deep restorations or trauma to a tooth may cause the nerve to be damaged and pain and infection can result. When the nerve is infected, it must be treated; it cannot heal on its own. While symptoms can include sensitivity to hot/cold or sweets, pain, swelling, pain to biting or pressure, and a bad taste in the mouth, sometimes no symptoms are present and the patient is unaware of the problem until the dental exam.
A root canal is performed to clean out the infected tooth pulp, and disinfect the canals of the tooth. The only other treatment would be to extract the tooth. Once the infection is resolved, the canal(s) are filled in to prevent any further infection. Usually a core build-up and crown is recommended for restoring a tooth that has had root canal therapy.
An Introduction to Root Canal Treatment
As you may be aware, root canal treatment is fairly common in many parts of the world. This particular procedure is done when the pulp of a tooth becomes infected. Since the pulp serves no major purpose, it can be removed by drilling a hole in the tooth and then extracting it. Many people today elect to have root canal treatment instead of extractions in order to relieve pain and preserve their teeth.
Interestingly enough, the first evidence of root canals appears in Israel around 400 AD. It was not until the advent of Xrays in the early 1900’s that dentists in the United States began adding root canals as a skill to their toolbox. Finally, in 1943 a group of dentists formed the American Academy of Endodontics, and the root canal officially became a cornerstone of modern dentistry.
The Advantages of Having Root Canals
- Resolve inner tooth infections that cause pain and swelling
- Avoid extractions
- Prevent damage to bone and gums from spreading infections
Chances are, you will always find someone that has a toothache, and then avoids going to the dentist as much as possible. If that person is lucky, the underlying infection will not spread into the surrounding gum tissue, or get into the blood supply. While you may not realize it, a root canal can actually be a life saving procedure simply, because it removes the source of infectious materials that can release dangerous pathogens into other parts of your body
Some Problems Associated with Root Canal Treatment
Overall, you will find that root canal treatment is safe. While it may be a bit unconformable, you should be able to avoid tooth loss and further infections. On the other hand, if you do not go to a reputable dentist, you may wind up with more infections, as well as other serious problems. Among other things, when a dentist removes pulp from the central portion of the tooth, it must also be removed from the narrow areas in the roots. Since molars and pre-molars have fairly complex root systems, a bad dentist may miss all of them. To make matters worse, if drilling into the root is not carried out with precision, it may cause permanent damage to the root. Some other issues that may come up include:
- Numbness or constant pain if the nerve serving the tooth is damaged
- Deep gum infections that may be difficult to detect
- Repeat root canals required because all of the pulp was not removed.
- Damage to surrounding teeth, gums, and bones from accidents that occur during the procedure.
If you are going to have root canal treatment, it is absolutely necessary to choose a dentist that has a track record for performing them with precision and high quality. Even though many other dental procedures can lead to absolute chaos in the hands of an unskilled practitioner, a root canal can be even worse because there is an infection to deal with. That said, you should never avoid having root canal treatment, since the benefits of getting rid of the infected tissue is far more valuable than hoping it will go away on its own.