The term ‘Root Canal’ is an anatomical one, used to describe the tiny hollow within the tooth that extends from the tip of the root of the tooth to the centre of the crown (the part of the tooth that is visible above the gum). This natural space inside the tooth is filled with the tooth’s nerve network, soft connective tissue and the blood vessels that keep the tooth nourished and healthy.
Root canal treatment is needed when the pulp inside your tooth becomes infected through tooth decay or damaged by an injury to your mouth. This infection may spread through the root canal system, which could eventually lead to an abscess, causing pain and discomfort. If root canal treatment is not carried out, the tooth may need to be take out.
When is a root canal required?
Root canal treatment (or endodontics) is necessary when there is an infection deep within your tooth.
The blood or nerve supply may be infected wither due to an injury or sever cavity. You may not experience any pain or discomfort during the early stages of an infection; however, if your tooth changes colour and darkens that is a sign that your tooth nerve is in danger of dying. If left untreated, this kind of infection can not only be very painful but can lead to a tooth abscess or even tooth loss.
Signs of Infection:
Serious toothache when eating, or when you put pressure on the tooth. Does it hurt when you bit down hard?
Excessively sensitive teeth. Does the sensitive pain linger after the initial contact with hot or cold foods or drinks?
Darkening of your tooth. Has your tooth changes colour? This may be a sign of the nerve dying.
A small bump on the gum, close to the painful tooth.
Tender or swollen gums around the tooth.
Why is is called a root canal?
The visible part of your tooth, above the gum line, is called the ‘crown’. Below the gum, fixing the tooth to the jaw is the ‘root’ of your tooth. The root canal system is a network that fills a central hollow area inside the tooth and down to the roots. Root canals are filled with loose connective tissue called ‘dental pulp’, and they are responsible for nourishing and hydrating the tooth, as well as reacting to hot and cold.
When an infection takes hold, it is this pulp which becomes inflamed, which is why it may be painful to eat or drink. Eventually, a bacterial infection will cause the pulp to die. It is important to see your dentist if you are experiencing toothache, as the infection will not go away of its own accords and antibiotics cannot be used to treat a root canal infection.
If left untreated, a deep infection can spread through the whole root canal system of your tooth. In this case, the pain may subside, as the infection will have removed all of the pulp.
Our dentist here at Reva Dental can perform root canal treatment to stop the infection from spreading and will preserve as much of your tooth as possible. Using specific techniques and advanced equipment, you will receive a local anaesthetic, and the treatment overall should feel no different to having an ordinary filling placed. The aim of the treatment is to remove all infection from the root canal. The root is then cleaned and filled to prevent any further infection. A temporary filling is put in, and the tooth is left to settle. The tooth is checked at a later visit, and when all the infection has cleared, the tooth is permanently filled. Root canal treatment is a skilled and time-consuming procedure, and most courses of treatment will involve two or more visits.
To keep your mouth in tip-top shape get in touch with your nearest Reva Dental for regular hygiene appointments and dental check-ups.