If you can’t bite down on an apple or chew through crusty bread without considerable dental pain you may have root canal damage.
Root canal therapy is a common procedure used to treat infected or inflamed dental pulp. Here’s what you can expect if you need it!
Pain is often one of the most common symptoms of needing root canal therapy. This problem can be very uncomfortable and you’ll want to get yourself in for an appointment with your dentist as soon as possible to get it treated. In some cases, your dentist may spot an issue that will mean you’ll need a root canal before you feel any discomfort.
Before the procedure
Firstly, your dentist will go through the basics of your tooth’s anatomy and why a root canal is required. Basically, the centre of each of your teeth is filled with soft tissue known as dental pulp. This is what helps your teeth grow when they develop, as it contains blood vessels and nerves. When this soft tissue becomes infected or inflamed, it will need to be removed and filled with a dental cement to avoid further damage or pain. This procedure is known as root canal therapy.
It’s important to note that a fully grown tooth can function perfectly well without the dental pulp!
During the procedure
The first step in a root canal procedure is when your dentist or endodontist creates a hole in the top of your tooth. They will then work to remove the pulp, thoroughly clean the area to avoid the potential for infection, and shape the space for a filling.
Following this, the tooth is filled with a biocompatible material. Most dentists will use a substance known as gutta-percha, which is a rubbery material that works well in teeth. It’s used to fill the space that the dental pulp left, and is attached with an adhesive to ensure the root canals (the ‘tubes’ that run from the centre of your tooth to the gum underneath) are property sealed.
There are some cases in which the dental pulp is removed, but there is still infection within the roots. In this situation, your dentist may opt to medicate the tooth to completely eradicate the infection. This process includes placing a temporary filling in the tooth during the first appointment, then returning at a later date to have the temporary filling removed and a permanent one put in its place.
Once the permanent filling is in place, the top of your tooth needs to be restored so that you can continue biting down on it and using it as per usual.
Most people will require a crown for this purpose. This is a cap that fits snugly over your tooth to give it extra strength and restore its shape and appearance. Crowns are often made from porcelain or gold. Be aware that there are different benefits to each one, so you’ll need to discuss with your dentist to find the right solution for you. For example, porcelain can be a good choice for teeth at the front of your mouth, as it typically looks more like a natural tooth.
Gold, on the other hand, is often used for back teeth. This is because it’s an incredibly strong substance that can withstand the pressures of protecting teeth that are more often used for chewing. In either case, you’ll usually have some time before you need to make this decision. Dental professionals sometimes like to wait a little while before placing a crown over your tooth to ensure the root canal was successful and is not going to cause further problems in future.
After you’ve had your root canal and a protective cap has been placed on the tooth, you can expect it to function like normal. Simply be sure to clean it and take care of it with good brushing and dietary habits, and continue attending regular appointments so your dentist can keep an eye on it.
If you are experiencing pain in the teeth and gums, you may have infected tooth pulp. Contact Palmerston Dental Surgery on 08 8932 1544 to book an examination.