Emergency Dentistry

Root canal

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Root Canal Treatment

The tooth is made up of 3 layers. The enamel is the outer layer and is the hardest past of the tooth. The middle layer is the dentin and the centre layer is the pulp. Pulp is where the nerves and blood vessels are situated and they are also known as the root canals.

The pulp is extremely important when the tooth first emerges. When the pulp gets damaged, then it has to be removed in order to save the tooth from being extracted. The canal will then be filled with a firm material and topped with a crown or restored with a composite filling. The root canal procedure is also called an endotontic treatment and it is a very common procedure.

When Is a Root Canal Performed

There are 2 main situations where the need to perform a root canal may occur:
  1. infection – cavity is probably the most common cause of pulp infection. When a cavity is left untreated, the bacteria can cause damage right down to the root. If the tooth only gets inflamed, then there are chances that it may heal. However if the inflammation does not heal and becomes infected, then a root canal will be performed.
  2. damage beyond repair – direct trauma to the tooth, fracture and sometimes other treatments of the tooth like fillings and crowning can cause damage to the pulp. If the damage cannot be repaired then a root canal becomes necessary.

How Would You Know If You Need A Root Canal Treatment

If you have a toothache or cavity, do not ignore them and seek dental help as soon as you can. If you have pulp infection, chances are that you may not be aware of it because it may not cause pain until it is too late. A root canal may be necessary if you have any of the following:
  1. your tooth becomes sensitive to heat and cold
  2. pain with touch
  3. swelling around the surrounding area of the tooth
  4. broken tooth
  5. your tooth may be discoloured

What Would Your Dentist Do

The first thing that your dentist would do is to conduct a few tests to confirm if your tooth really needs a root canal. Some of the tests include:
  1. check the tissues surrounding the tooth for inflammation and swelling
  2. tap the tooth or place hot or cold substances to test the sensitivity place cold or hot
  3. X-ray
  4. Electric pulp tester – this is a handheld electric device that is used to check if the pulp is still alive by placing the device on the tooth and running a small electric current through it. This procedure is painless.

After confirming that a root canal is necessary, your dentist will proceed with the procedure:
  1. the area surrounding the affected tooth will be first numbed
  2. a hole to either the back or top of the tooth to get to the pulp canal and remove the diseased pulp.
  3. the canals will be thoroughly cleaned so no abscess or decay is left in the canals for bacteria to thrive.
  4. The canals will then be filled with resin material and covered with a crown. This will be done after a short time.

If the root canal procedure does not succeed (because of bacteria growth during the procedure or if the root canal is not cleaned 100%) then the procedure will be repeated.