It is an elective procedure performed in an effort to repair, save and preserve the natural dentition which may have been irreversibly damaged due to trauma or injury, decay or medical/systemic complications. The goal of the treatment is to curb and prevent wide-spread infections. During the course of the root canal treatment, the damaged nerve or pulp is removed, the inside of the tooth disinfected and cleaned, and then re-sealed. If left untreated, an affected tooth with a damaged nerve tissue can cause significant harm to a patient’s natural dentition.
Some of the commonly associated symptoms that indicate the need for root canal treatment include:
Wide-spread pain and discomfort
Formation of persistent and recurring, pus-filled pocket or abscess on the surface of the gums
Prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold
Tenderness to touch and tooth movements during chewing, biting and grinding
Discoloration of the affected tooth
Swelling and tenderness in the nearby gum tissues and bone
There are, however, cases where no symptoms are present.
Step By Step Root Canal Procedure
1. At DENTiST @ MiLTON, endodontic treatments are usually carried out over one, two or more appointments, depending on the difficulty and severity of the case and the patient’s tolerance threshold.
2. The very first step of the root canal treatment, much like any other dental procedure, is the initial evaluation. As all teeth are of different length and size, the dentist will examine and x-ray the tooth.
3. After the establishment of the definitive diagnosis, before the treatment begins, local anesthesia will be administered by the dentist to ensure complete lack of sensation in and around the tooth.
4. Once the tooth is numb, a small sheet, called the rubber dam, is secured in place to isolate the area to protect it from salivary contamination.
5. After the Endodontist has cleared his field of vision, he begins by drilling a small opening in the top, the crown, of the tooth to gain access to the enclosed pulp chamber.
6. Very small, file-like instruments are used to remove the decayed nerve tissue from the pulp chamber and the root canals, the tiny channels which run the length of the root.
7. After they are thoroughly disinfected and cleaned, the canals are shaped carefully to create sufficient space for the filling material.
8. After shaping, the dentist carefully fills the root canals with a biocompatible, rubber-like material called Gutta-Percha. This material is placed with an adhesive cement to ensure that the canals are completely sealed.
9. When the canals are sealed to satisfaction, more often than not, the Endodontist places a temporary filling to close the opening made in the crown of the tooth.
10. Once the tooth is ready to be restored with a crown or other dental restoration or appliance, the temporary filling will be taken out by the dentist and replaced with a more permanent and long-lasting material to restore full functionality of the tooth.
11. It is normal to feel mild to moderate discomfort for the first 24 to 48 hours following a root canal treatment; however, the pain is rarely lasting. It is advisable for patients to be careful in their eating, brushing and flossing habits for a few days following treatment.
12. When properly cared for, root canal treatments are highly successful, with more than a 95% success rate. Most of the teeth that are fixed by endodontic therapy last a lifetime.