Saving damaged teeth
We will always endeavour to save your teeth rather than remove them because natural teeth are best. The loss of even one tooth can have a detrimental effect on your mouth and it is almost always more expensive to replace a lost tooth than to treat a damaged one.
One of the ways we can prevent the loss of a tooth is with root canal treatment. Treatment involves the removal of the irreversibly damaged pulp tissues from the centre of your tooth. A root canal treated tooth can function normally and can be maintained with routine dental care and oral hygiene measures. We sometimes recommend that root filled teeth are further protected with a crown to protect them from further irreversible damage.
What are the symptoms?
Signs of pulp damage may include pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, discoloration of the tooth, swelling, tenderness of the overlying gums. On the other hand, there may be no symptoms at all and the diagnosis is made from a routine x-ray. If pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated, it can eventually cause pain, swelling and loss of the supporting bone. Ultimately, if untreated, the tooth may be lost.
Root canal treatment procedures are comfortable and painless as the tooth is anaesthetised during treatment. After treatment, the tooth may be sensitive or tender for a few days. Taking over-the-counter painkillers can relieve this discomfort. However, if the pain persists and is severe, or a swelling occurs, you should contact us immediately.
When is root canal treatment necessary?
Generally speaking there are two main reasons: a) When the nerve and blood vessels in the tooth (dental pulp) are inflamed and irreversibly damaged. This is usually accompanied by hot and cold pain and is called acute pulpitis. b) If the dental pulp degenerates completely, the root canals can become infected, leading to formation of an abscess, with or without discomfort on bite. This is a chronic pulpitis.
What is the reason for the disease of the dental pulp?
Tooth decay, cracks, large fillings, trauma or even tooth wear can sometimes cause irreversible damage to the dental pulp.
How long does root treatment take?
A routine root canal treatment can take between 1.5 and 3 hours.
How long will the tooth last?
The success rates for root canal treatment are high - in the region of 80% - 95%. The success rate depends on firstly being able to access the tooth adequately and secondly on the ability to disinfect the entire length of the root canals and fill them adequately. In some cases this is not possible due to the extent of the infection, technical difficulties and complications and it is this that affects the success rate. Provided the tooth can be adequately treated, it should last for many years.