What is Root Canal Treatment?

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What is Root Canal Treatment?

by Susanne Ellis, on 17th April 2014 | 2 comments

Root canal treatment is used to save teeth which would otherwise need to be removed. It is needed when the blood or nerve supply of the tooth (known as the pulp) is infected through decay or injury:

Sometimes, due to trauma or decay the “nerve” inside the tooth dies off. Any passing bacteria find this a source of nourishment and proceed to munch on the dead nerve and multiply. This is the start of a bacterial infection.

Your body can’t do anything about this infection because, along with the nerve dying, the blood supply to the tooth dies off too, so the body can’t send in some antibacterial cells (white blood cells) to attack the bugs trapped inside the tooth.

The area between the tooth and the jawbone is very tiny, and the space inside the tooth is also minute. When there is inflammation and infection, the tissues in these tiny spaces swell, causing an increase in pressure, which becomes extremely painful. This is called pulpitis and can progress to an acute abscess.

At this point your dentist has two choices – extract the tooth and remove the pain and infection that way – or do a root treatment.

In a root treatment the inside of the tooth root is cleaned and sterilised and then filled with a rubber-like material called gutta percha. Root canal treatment is a painstaking process that has a good success rate in the right hands.

In most cases you will need more than one visit to complete the root treatment. Teeth that have had root canal treatment are more brittle and your dentist will usually advise you to have the tooth crowned. This will provide extra support and strength to the tooth.

See below for a great explanation of the process from the Colgate website.

1.  A Deep Infection

Root Canal  treatment is needed when an injury or a large cavity damages the tooth’s root. The root becomes infected or inflamed.

DeepInfection 

2.  A Route to the Root

The dentist numbs the tooth. An opening is made through the crown of the tooth to the pulp chamber.

Route2Root

3.  Removing the Infected/Inflamed Tissue

Special files are used to clean the infection and unhealthy pulp out of the canals. Then they shape the canals for the filling material. Irrigation is used to help clean the canals and remove debris.

Inflamed
 

4.  Filling the Canals

The canals are filled with a permanent material. Typically this is done with a material known as gutta-percha. This helps to keep the canals free of infection or contamination.

Filling
 

5.  Rebuilding the Tooth

A temporary fillingmaterial is placed on top of the gutta-percha to seal the opening. The filling remains until the tooth receives a permanent filling or a crown. A crown, sometimes called a cap, looks like a natural tooth. It is placed over the top of the tooth.

Rebuilding
 

6.  Extra Support

 In some cases, a post is placed into the root next to the gutta-percha. This gives the crown more support.
ExtraSupport
7.  The Crowning Touch

The crown is cemented into place.

Crown
 

Source : http://www.colgate.com/app/CP/US/EN/OC/Information/Articles/Oral-and-Dental-Health-
Basics/Checkups-and-Dental-Procedures/Root-Canal-Treatment/article/Illustrations-Root-Canal-
Treatment-From-Start-to-Finish.cvsp

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