Endodontics – Root Canal Therapy
This is the process used to save a tooth that has been badly damaged due to disease, decay or injury. Also known as endodontic treatment.
The pulp is made up of soft tissue consisting of nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue that extend from the base of the crown (the crown is the visible part of the tooth above the gum line) to the tip of each root.
When the blood supply to the tooth’s pulp is cut off and cannot be restored, the pulp dies.The most common cause of pulp death is from swelling of the pulp from infection, caused by:
- Deep decay
- An injury or trauma
- A crack or chip in the tooth
- Broken fillings
- Deep fillings
- Extreme clenching & grinding
When the pulp dies, over time pus builds up, initially within the tooth, eventually escaping at the root tip into the bone, forming a "pus-pocket" called an abscess; this is often why an abscess is painful, especially to hot foods and beverages.
What Is Involved?
The process involves cleaning the internal parts of the tooth and removing as much diseased tissue and infection as possible. We often have to place a crown on the tooth once the root canal therapy is completed to return strength and function.
Endodontics vs Tooth Extraction
There are many reasons to save a tooth rather than having it extracted and replaced with an artificial tooth which may not be as easy to clean or may not function as well as your own natural tooth.
When a tooth is extracted and not immediately replaced surrounding teeth can move out of position and move into the space left by the missing tooth, this can lead to gum disease and decay of the tilted teeth.
Alternatives To Root Canal Therapy
There are some additional treatments that endodontics covers, in replacing infected pulp and restoring teeth.
One dental procedure is a pulpotomy. This treatment is carried out on children's teeth to replace diseased or damaged pulp with a "special medicated filling" to maintain the rest of the pulp in enough time to allow the adult tooth to grow.
An alternative to the full root canal therapy is pulp capping. This procedure is performed in certain circumstances when there is a "very small nerve exposure" but the nerve is still healthy enough for repair.
Also coming under the branch of endodontics is the replanting of teeth that have been knocked from their sockets, treatments that require a separation or removal of the root, and the repair or retreatment of teeth that have previously had endodontic treatment.