Root canal treatment
A root canal treatment is a dental procedure to treat infection of a tooth’s inner part called the pulp. The pulp consist of nerves and blood vessels and function as “the heart” of the tooth. The pulp makes the tooth vital (alive), but different reasons can result in an inflamed or infected pulp. With a root canal treatment the infected pulp is removed and replaced with Gutta-percha which is a permanent kind of rubber filling. The Gutta-percha helps avoiding new contamination or infection. This is a way for us to save the tooth instead of extracting it.
Here is a list of different reason for an acute infection in the pulp, which can cause a swelling and therefore a rise in the pressure inside the tooth and result in pain:
•Deep tooth decay
•Deep fillings close to the nerve
•Repeated dental procedures – for example replacing a large filling
•Traumatic damage such as cracks, chips or fractures
•Traumatic occlusion – repeated excessive force on the tooth when biting together
It does not have to be painful to get a root canal treatment! We will give you the amount of anesthesia needed and sometimes the nerve is not just infected but completely dead. The treatment is removing the nerve and cleaning the inside of the roots. First we get access to the pulp through the crown of the tooth and find all the root canals. Depending on which tooth to treat the amount varies between 1-4 canals.
When all are located we measure them for accurate length to ensure fillings right by the tip of the root. We use small files to remove the infected tissue and clean the inner walls of the roots. Throughout the cleaning procedure we rinse with antiseptic liquid. We always use a rubber dam around the tooth so no bacteria from the saliva can enter the tooth during cleaning. Finally, the canals are filled with gutta-percha. Over this we make a plastic filling or a crown, depending on the loss of tooth substance before the root canal treatment. A root canal treated tooth can be more fragile than a vital tooth so we often recommend a crown over time. If the amount of infection is too big, we cannot do the cleaning and the filling in one appointment.
If the infection has affected the surrounding bone where we can’t go with the files, we need to make sure we don’t do the final filling too quickly. An antiseptic paste is therefore applied in the canal after cleaning as a first session. When free from symptoms we can finish the treatment with root canal filling including a tooth filling on top.