What is Root Canal Therapy?

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Root Canal Therapy is a procedure performed by a dentist or an Endodontist. Contrary to popular belief, root canal therapy is not ‘scary’ or ‘painful’, the pain that can come with a root canal is due to an infection in the tooth. The presence of an infection can also cause
swelling and prevents the local anaesthetic from working effectively.

When might I need Root Canal Therapy?

If the nerve of a tooth ‘dies’ or becomes infected, in order to save this tooth, the dentist or Endodontist would need to preform a root canal therapy. A nerve can become infected due to decay, trauma such as a blow to the face or a crack (often caused by amalgam fillings or
grinding/clenching that you may or may not be aware of).

What happens during a Root Canal Therapy?

A root canal therapy would usually take 3 or more appointments.

Visit 1. The infected nerve or “pulp” is removed from the tooth using a very thin instrument, the canals inside each root (teeth commonly have 1-5 canals, some roots have 2 or mare canals) are cleaned out and shaped with a sequence of very fine Endodontic files. An antibiotic dressing is placed inside the canals and the tooth is sealed up with a temporary filling which prevents bacteria from re-infecting the tooth untilvisit two.

Visit 2. This appointment is usually 2-3 weeks after visit one which allows time for the infection to clear but does not allow enough time for it to return. Further cleaning is done in this appointment and more antibiotic dressing is placed to ensure the infection has been completely eradicated, a new temporary filling is placed. In some cases, additional time and cleaning visits may be required for persistent infection.

Visit 3. Is usually 2-3 weeks after visit two. In this final appointment of root canal therapy, some more cleaning, shaping and measuring is required to remove any remaining soft tissue and the canals are filled with a rubber like material (gutta percha) from the tips (apex) of the roots to the floor of the pulp chamber. This requires precise measurements when cleaning the canals as any infected tissue left behind can cause a recurrent infection. Once the canals are filled, a semi-permanent filling is placed and the tooth is monitored using dental x-rays to ensure the infection has been completely eradicated. Great skill is required to undertake such a procedure and to ensure that the tooth is properly treated to prevent future infection. Our skilled dentists perform root canal therapy daily with the overall aim of
preserving natural teeth for functional and often aesthetic purposes for
the future!

What happens after Root Canal Therapy?

When the nerve of a tooth is removed, this tooth becomes extremely fragile/brittle as blood is no longer being supplied to this tooth via the canals. This can often mean you don’t feel the pressure on biting with this tooth thus making it more susceptible to chipping, breaking & cracking. For this reason, your dentist may recommend a crown be placed on this tooth (particularly if this tooth is used for chewing). As an interim, if your dentist is concerned this tooth may crack beyond repair during or after a root canal therapy, they may recommend a metal band be placed on this tooth until the crown can be placed. A metal band acts in the same way as a crown by preventing your tooth from flexing when you bite which helps to prevent cracks from spreading further.

Contact us at Weston Dentistry today to learn more about root canal therapy and see if our dentists can save your tooth today!

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