Root canal is the colloquial term for what dentists call endodontistry. It is an established method that saves teeth from extraction and reduces the pain associated with nerve damage to the tooth that can interfere with chewing. Often thought of as a very painful procedure, endodontistry has advanced to offer less painful procedures. The root canal can be performed in as little as one or two visits.
The major cause of root canal damage is a natural breakdown in the dentine and pulp of the tooth that affect the tooth’s nerve. Pulp is the substance that dentine is made of - it nourishes and hydrates the tooth. Pulp is responsible for sensations of hot and cold in the dental regions. The dental nerves run through the pulp. There are usually between 2 and 5 nerves per tooth.
In a root canal treatment the pulp is cleaned out; the area disinfected and filled.
WHAT TO EXPECT
A dental check-up and pain. Pain control can be difficult to achieve because the anaesthetic is neutralised by the acid around any abscesses present. Any abscess is drained and antibiotics may be needed to prevent further infection.
A recent innovation is the use of dental loupes that are seen as significantly improving the procedure. The use of laser has recently been introduced but there are concerns that lasers do not fully disinfect the tooth.
A tooth is saved.
It is not always successful. Pain is involved at some level. It is expensive and the recovery time can run into weeks if an infection is not cleared.