Root Canal Therapy
Root Canal Treatment is mandated when the pulpal (living) tissue within the tooth becomes infected or inflamed. The pulp being the vital part of the tooth that supplies nutrients and nerves to the inner part of the tooth is essential to the development, health and soundness of the tooth during its lifetime.
But when infection from dental decay or gum infection reaches the pulp it could fester and cause pain and when left unchecked can cause greater damage to the surrounding and deeper tissues such as the surrounding jaw bone, leading to either the formation of an abscess or fistula (an opening of draining pus from the infected area) or become a cyst in the case of a long standing infection. To prevent this, the infected pupal tissue must be removed, and the root canal space cleaned and filled with an inert material (Gutta Percha). The entire root canal treatment can be completed within a single appointment or if there is a persistent or elaborate infection, it may necessitate multiple visits to allow the infection to be combated and for the inflammation to subside before the final filling.
All this is done after anesthetising your tooth by our Consultant Dr. Ganesh C. and will not cause any pain during the procedure. You might face a few days of discomfort related to that particular tooth and hence you would be prescribed a dose of painkillers and /or antibiotics for a short time period of 5 days.
After root canal treatment is completed and now that the tooth is cut off from its natural nutrient supply, it is prone to become brittle over time. Furthermore the fact that the interior of the tooth has lost its strong and hard enamel and dentin, it could in fact not be so sound to withstand the bite force as before. Hence you would need to place a crown of ceramic, zirconia or metal after the root canal treatment to complete the procedure and durably restore the tooth. Sometimes if a large part of the tooth is lost to decay then we may need to build up the lost crown part of the tooth by doing what is called core build up and in some cases we may even take support from the root by employing a technique called post and core restoration.
J D Peak et al in 2001 reported a success rate of 85% in root canal treatments, with upper front teeth having the best success rates. Federica Fonzar et al in a 10 year follow up of patients in different centres in Europe (UK, Sweden and Italy) showed that 93% of the root canal treated teeth had no problems and survived beyond 10 years.
Sometimes the infection is so severe that significant amount of bone loss has occurred around the tooth or if gum problems cause a tooth to be very loose, then it cannot be saved. But extraction or removal of a tooth is a very poor alternative decision to endodontic root canal treatment as the loss of a tooth would mean a decreased efficiency in chewing or more importantly an aesthetic problem related to your appearance. The bone in the area of the lost tooth slowly fades away, causing your cheeks to sink in or hollow out (making you look older) and replacing this missing tooth with a denture, crown and bridge or a dental implant will have the burden of additional and variable costs. Whereas, saving the diseased tooth through root canal therapy allows you to continue having your normal chewing force and sensation and feel of your food as opposed to artificial dentures, it restores your natural appearance and furthermore protects other healthy teeth from the unnecessary and unreasonable additional wear or strain that they would have to bear to compensate for the loss of a teeth in the arch.
Root canal treatment therefore enhances the longevity of your smile and integrity of your entire dental composition of teeth by preventing tooth loss and restores your chewing function and speech.