Root canal treatment (endodontic treatment) is used to repair and save a tooth that is badly damaged or infected. The procedure involves the removal of the infected tooth pulp – the tissue inside the tooth that keeps the tooth alive. The tooth pulp consists of blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue. When the pulp becomes infected or inflamed, it swells and causes pressure on the tooth, leading to tooth ache and, eventually, irreparable damage to the pulp. Once the pulp dies the infection could spread to the bone, causing mild to severe pain.
If you are about to have your first root canal treatment, you might be feeling anxious about the procedure. To set your mind at ease, we will take you through the procedure so that you will know exactly what to expect, step for step:
After determining which tooth needs to be treated, a local anaesthetic will be administered, to numb the tooth and the surrounding tissue. In some cases, the pulp may be too inflamed, so the anaesthetic might take a while longer to take effect, but the dentist will not begin the treatment until the tissue is completely numb.
A thin sheet of vinyl or rubber (known as ‘dental dam’) will be placed over the teeth. A hole will get punched into the dental dam where the infected tooth will emerge, allowing it to be isolated from the rest of the mouth. This way, the root canal treatment can be carried out in a sterile environment, free from bacteria or saliva.
A small hole will be drilled through the tooth, allowing access to the pulp.
The infected pulp tissue will be removed from the tooth, through the use of a specially designed instrument that is used to clean out the root canal. Because the area is numb, this part of the process is not painful, as the tooth itself can no longer feel pain after the pulp is removed.
The canals get cleaned and disinfected with antiseptic and antibacterial solutions.
The canals will receive another thorough cleaning as well as shaping to all it to receive root canal fillings and sealers. Sealing the canals is of utmost importance to ensure that the tooth does not get re-infected. Once the canals are filled, the tooth might require a permanent restoration – such as a dental filling – to replace the lost tooth structure and provide a permanent seal on the top of the tooth.
Root canal treatment, as you have just read, is not as scary as most patients think. Contrary to popular belief, root canal treatment does not cause pain, it relieves it. It also prevents infections from causing damage to the bone and resulting in tooth loss. If you require root canal treatment, contact a dentist in Cape Town.
Dear Doctor “A Step-By-Step Guide To Root Canal Treatment”
Colgate “Illustrations: Root Canal Treatment From Start To Finish”
Mayo Clinic “Diseases and Conditions: Tooth abscess”