Let’s start by dispelling a common myth: a root canal treatment is painful. In fact, a root canal treatment does not cause pain – it relieves it!
A space within the tooth called the pulp chamber houses the root canal system and pulp – the living tissue that keeps the tooth “alive”. The pulp includes blood vessels, nerves and connective tissues. When the pulp becomes inflamed or infected, an endodontic (“endo” means inside; “odont” means tooth) treatment – also known as a root canal treatment – is needed.
Extensive tooth decay, restoration that involves the pulp, a cracked or fractured tooth due to trauma, or severe gum disease can all result in acute inflammation of the pulp. This causes swelling and pressure inside the tooth, which leads to toothache and irreversible damage of the pulp. Signs of pulp damage may include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, discolouration of the tooth, or swelling and tenderness of the overlying gums.
Root canal treatment saves teeth that would otherwise need to be extracted. It involves the removal of the infected pulp tissues from the tooth. Once treated, the tooth can function normally and can be maintained with routine dental care and oral hygiene measures.
THE ROOT CANAL PROCEDURE
Using specially designed hand or rotary files, the root canals are cleaned and shaped to a form that can be sealed. Debris within the canals is removed by flushing with an antibacterial solution. The canals are filled with gutta-percha, a natural latex-like material. The tooth is then restored to full shape and function with a permanent filling or a crown, depending on the amount of remaining tooth structure.
WILL IT HURT OR CAUSE ILLNESS?
The perception of root canals being painful began decades ago, but with modern technologies and anaesthetics, today it is no more uncomfortable than having a filling placed. A root canal treatment removes any damaged tissue from a tooth, thereby relieving the pain you feel from a severe toothache.
It is a safe and effective procedure. Some websites may claim that root canals contribute to the occurrence of illness in the body. There is no valid scientific evidence linking root canal-treated teeth to disease elsewhere in the body. A root canal treatment is designed to eliminate bacteria from the infected root canal, prevent reinfection of the tooth and save the natural tooth.
Healthy endodontically treated teeth help patients chew efficiently, maintain the natural appearance of their smiles and enhance their enjoyment of life. Through endodontic treatment, endodontists enable patients to keep their natural teeth for a lifetime.