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In our latest posting looking at dental procedures, we consider root canal treatment – assessing what this actually is and who may benefit from it.
Root canal treatment is considered an advanced procedure which is more likely to be carried out by your dentist when all other steps have failed to address or resolve the problem fully. Root canal can be quite a complicated procedure which requires specialist precision and skill, but this is nothing outside the normal scope of a dentists operation.
Root canal is normally considered when some kind of infection of the teeth and surrounding area has taken place. This is most likely to happen when bacteria builds up and eventually breaks down the tissue and enamel in the area. Common examples of when this is most likely to happen include:
* A prolonged period of tooth decay.
* Older fillings which have broken down and ‘leaked.’
* Some kind of trauma to the teeth which has resulted in an injury (such as a fall.)
To understand more about root canal treatment we need to learn more about the teeth. The tooth is made up of two parts – (1) the crown / top part and (2) the root. Root canal treatment obviously focuses on this latter part. The root normally extends a fair distance inside, from the crown to the end of the root. It is not uncommon for teeth to have more than one route either.
Root canal treatment becomes necessary when the pulp (a type of soft tissue) has become damaged by bacteria. Some people may begin to experience symptoms when they get problems with the pulp and these include pain when eating / drinking or perhaps loosening of a tooth. These problems can often subside which tricks people as it gives the impression that healing has occurred and the problem is resolved. By this time the infection has probably spread throughout the root system and more severe symptoms can present including pain or swelling in the mouth. Despite what some may think, antibiotics are not effective at dealing with root canal infections, so it is important to see your dentist for help as soon as possible.
Root canal treatment is performed normally in two stages. Firstly the bacteria need to be removed to halt the infection and stop it doing any more damage. Secondly, the tooth is often extracted although this will be avoided if at all possible because dentists like to preserve as many of the patients natural teeth as they can.
Once the bacteria has been fully removed, the root canal area will be filled and a crown or filling will be applied to the tooth. Any healing should then naturally occur with time in the normal way.
Root canal treatments are usually done under local anaesthetics and most people find they are no more uncomfortable than other dental procedures. As with all dental work, care should be taken immediately after and a home recovery plan should be followed.
Root canal treatment is actually very successful and long lasting, so you can rest assured that once done, you are unlikely to get any associated problems with that particular complaint.
To find out more on root canal treatment, visit our specialist page where you can also make contact with us to discuss any issues you are experiencing.