Root canal treatment involves the removal of the pulp tissue (the nerve and blood supply) from a tooth. The pulp runs down the root(s) of each tooth down narrow tunnels called root canals.
Root canal treatment is required when the tooth has become infected or when the pulp is inflamed which causes a build up of pressure. The build up in pressure is what usually causes a bad tooth ache.
There are a few different reasons to why an infection or inflammation of the pulp arises:
– dental trauma
– deep decay
– deep fillings
Decay is the culprit the majority of the time and this is why we recommend regular dental check-ups. The decay process is usually asymptomatic until the very late stages and then often root canal therapy is required to maintain the tooth.
The process of root canal treatment usually takes two-three appointments. The tooth is numbed up, a rubber sheet is used to isolate the tooth from the rest of the mouth and a hole is drilled into the tooth to reach the root canals. The canals are then cleaned thoroughly with chemicals to kill bacteria and remove any remaining nerve tissue. Dental files are used to clean and prepare the canals to the correct length and then a dressing is placed inside the canal and left for at least one week. After this time, a rubber material is used fill the canals and the tooth is restored with a filling.
Often after root canal treatment the tooth is weak as there is often a lot of tooth structure missing. When this is the case, a crown is the recommended restoration.