When is Root Canal Treatment Needed
Root canal treatment is needed when the pulp becomes inflamed or infected.
The causes can be:
- Deep tooth decay,
- Repeated dental procedures on one tooth (replacing a large filling, for example),
- Traumatic damage such as a crack, chip or even a root fracture.
- Gum disease can also give rise to root canal problems necessitating root canal treatment.
Any of these issues can result in acute inflammation of the pulp, which causes swelling and pressure inside the tooth, leading to tooth pain and, eventually, irreversible damage to the pulp. Once the pulp dies, the pain may subside initially, and sometimes to returns as an acute (painful) infection spreading into the bone. It could also become a chronic infection with symptoms ranging from mild to severe.
How is a root canal treatment performed?
Root canal treatment consists of several steps that can take place over several dental appointments, depending on the situation. These steps are:
- First, an opening is made through the back of a front tooth or the crown of a molar or pre-molar.
- After the diseased pulp is removed (a pulpectomy), the pulp chamber and root canals are cleaned, enlarged and shaped in preparation for being filled.
- If more than one visit is needed, a temporary filling is placed in the crown opening to protect the tooth between dental visits.
- The temporary filling is removed, and the pulp chamber and root canal permanently filled.
- Finally, a crown is usually placed over the tooth to restore its natural shape and appearance.
How long will the restored tooth last?
Your treated and restored tooth can last a lifetime with proper care.
Tooth decay can still occur in treated teeth, and good oral hygiene and regular dental exams are necessary to prevent further problems.
As there is no longer a pulp keeping the tooth alive, root-treated teeth can become brittle and are more prone to fracture. This is an important consideration when deciding whether to crown or fill a tooth after root canal treatment.