Root canal treatment is used to repair and save a tooth with infected tooth pulp. Root canal therapy removes the infection at the root of the tooth, removing the cause of pain and discomfort.
Symptoms that indicate you may require root canal:
- Unprovoked or spontaneous pain in tooth;
- Hot and cold drinks and foods cause sensitivity;
- Biting or chewing causes pain in tooth;
- Tooth loosening;
- Gum swelling surrounding the affected the tooth; and
- Facial swelling.
If you do require root canal therapy in Melbourne, please contact us to arrange an appointment with one of our Dentists. They will perform an assessment and answer any questions or concerns you may have involving the situation and treatment.
During your examination, we may need to include taking x-rays in order to help plan a customised approach for your root canal treatment by revealing the number, size, curvature and the depth of the roots. This will assist in determining the complexity of your case. If you require specialist treatment, we can easily arrange a referral to a specialist Endodontist.
How to avoid a root canal - and what happens if you need one
A root canal is a treatment used when a tooth is essentially ‘dead’. It doesn’t revive the tooth, but it does mean that you’ll get to keep it, rather than having it pulled out and replaced with a dental implant or bridge.
It can be a hugely beneficial treatment, but it’s one that is better prevented in the first place!
How to avoid needing a root canal treatment
To know how to avoid one, you first need to know why a root canal is needed.
The part of the tooth you see when you open your mouth is only the outer shell. Inside, the tooth’s centre is made up of nerves and blood vessels – a mass of tissue known as the dental pulp. Sometimes, this tissue can become infected or damaged, in which case, the tooth is considered ‘dead’. Fortunately, adult teeth no longer need this pulp, so a root canal treatment removes the damaged pulp, and replaces it with a sterile dental cement to avoid further infection and discomfort.
So the trick to avoiding a root canal is to avoid damaging the dental pulp in the centre of the tooth.
Basically, it all comes down to good dental health. Pulp can become damaged by decay, which is what happens when bacteria and plaque build up on your teeth and eat away at their protective enamel surface. Brushing your teeth twice per day and flossing once per day help to remove this bacteria, and your natural saliva will help restore any damage to the enamel. Should you skip brushing and flossing, the plaque can build up and begin to decay your tooth. Keep in mind that sugary substances also encourage decay, as the bacteria in plaque feed off them, which is why a healthy, low-sugar diet is so much better for your dental health.
Another factor leading to pulp damage is cracked teeth. If your tooth is weakened from a past filling, or if you bite down on a hard surface (such as ice and hard boiled sweets), it can cause tiny fractures in a tooth, which allows bacteria to get into the pulp.
Regular visits to your dentist can also help keep root canals at bay, as these skilled experts know the signs and may be able to stop pulp damage before it has the chance to occur. Unfortunately, there are some cases where a root canal will be unavoidable due to the nature of teeth.
What happens during a root canal procedure?
Like any dental procedure, a root canal begins with a local anaesthetic to numb the area. Then, the dentist will open the top of the tooth and remove the damaged pulp from the inside.
The next stage is usually the one that takes the longest as it is essential for a proper recovery: cleaning. The inside of the tooth and its roots must be completely free of the bacteria that caused the damage, so your dentist will be careful to fully clean and dry the area before filling the hole with a sterile dental cement. A filling is placed followed by a crown in most cases, for added strength and protection.
Note that you should return to your dentist after having had a root canal to have a crown placed on the tooth for added strength and protection. Your dentist will discuss this with you.
Still got questions about how to avoid a root canal, or what happens when you need one? Don’t hesitate to ask your dentist about the details.