Root Canal treatments are used as an alternative solution to extracting teeth that have died due to infection or trauma. Teeth that have become abscessed or infected as a result of decay or trauma should not be left untreated – even if there is no pain. Uncontrolled dental infections are known to be a factor that can contribute to the progress of diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, autoimmune diseases and pregnancy complications such as premature birth.
A root canal is a treatment of the pulp or “nerve” of the tooth that is inflamed, infected, or dead. The pulp is a soft substance in the centre of the tooth that normally consists of a bundle of nerve fibres, blood vessels and connective tissue. Bacteria from tooth decay, leaking fillings or cracks in teeth can invade the tooth reaching the pulp and causing it to swell, throb and eventually die. The dead tissue forms pus and/or gas that often cannot escape through the tooth and will the travel through the tissues causing pain and swelling. In some cases the infection can affect the heart, brain or kidneys and can be life threatening.
Pain that prevents you from sleeping or wakes you at night can be due to irreversible pulpitis or in other words the nerve is dying and about to from an abscess.
Many people think that root canal treatment is painful, putting them off receiving treatment. However, one of the main objectives of treatment is to resolve and stop dental pain as quickly and effectively as possible. This can only be achieved by treating the infection within the tooth. Systemic antibiotics give temporary relief only
Care is taken throughout the treatment process to maintain comfort, including the use of local anaesthetic and in many cases there is very little to no pain during the root canal procedure.
Common symptoms of patients who need a root canal:
- Severe toothache that interferes with your sleep usually indicates a dying nerve and should be examined as soon as possible.
- Facial swelling • A tooth that has become tender to tap or when closing teeth together.
- Teeth that are heat sensitive
Infection from dead teeth can be present, sometimes for years without causing pain and is only detected on examination with X-rays, during a check up. It is advisable to have at least one OPG x-ray every 5 years and especially before commencing treatment for osteoporosis, orthopaedic, or cardiovascular surgeries.