The words ‘root canal treatment’ are likely to send a shiver up the spine of anyone who suffers from anxiety or fear of dental procedures. It is the one dental treatment that seems to invoke all the negative connotations that people have with dental treatment. In reality though, root canal treatment is a relatively simple and largely painless way to treat a very serious problem.
What is a Root Canal?
A root canal is the hollow tube that contains all the ‘pulp’ of a tooth. Pulp is made up of nerve fibres, blood vessels, tissue fibres and specialised dental cells. The chief role of pulp is to provide nutrients for tooth growth and development during childhood.
However, as soon as your tooth is developed, it takes all its nutrients from surrounding tissue. This means that your tooth is able to function completely without the assistance of the pulp. This fact is why there is such a high success rate for root canal treatment, with 90% to 95% of patients being able to enjoy full tooth functionality following treatment.
Symptoms of Root Canal Infection
There are some tell-tale signs of root canal infection, which means that Dr Olstein can usually tell just by talking to you if your root canal is infected. These symptoms include:
- Dental pain that appears suddenly and can’t be explained by some sort of trauma. If you wake up during the night with sharp pain in your teeth, it’s a sure sign that you need to make an appointment with the dentist.
- Sensitivity to hot and cold food or beverages. While some people have naturally sensitive teeth, if drinking a hot coffee or iced water suddenly becomes unbearable there’s a strong chance you’re suffering from an infection.
- Loosening of teeth and swelling in the affected area.
- Pain when biting or chewing, which is often the result of inflamed gums and sensitive teeth due to an underlying infection.
- Oozing puss in the infected area.
Causes of Root Canal Infection
There are a number of causes of root canal infection, but the most common include:
- Un-treated build-up of decay caused by poor dental hygiene habits and infrequent visits to the dentist.
- Trauma to the teeth, such as a blow from a ball while playing sport.
- Build-up of decay underneath a deep filling.
- Advanced gum disease, which can be caused by a multitude of factors.
Possible Effects of Neglecting Necessary Root Canal Treatment
The effect of not having your infected root canal attended to can be dire, and the choice to leave it untreated can mean countless appointments at the dentist. The spread of infection from outside of the canal can cause abscesses in the gums. This can lead to further infections, loss of bone in the effected area (due to the bacteria attacking the integrity of the bone) and eventual loss of tooth.
Root Canal Treatment Procedure
As mentioned earlier, root canal treatment is a relatively simple process:
- If Dr Olstein believes that you are suffering from root canal infection, x-rays will be taken to assess the extent and location of the damage as well the number, size and depth of the roots that are affected. Getting a clear picture of the damage will allow Dr Olstein to design a tailored treatment plan, which does not remove any more tissue than necessary.
- Once the treatment plan has been decided on, a local anaesthetic will be applied to make the procedure as pain free as possible.
- A dental dam will be applied to the infected tooth in order to isolate it and ensure the area stays sterile throughout the procedure.
- Dr Olstein will make a small hole in your tooth in order to access the root canal.
- The infected pulp will then be removed. This part of the procedure will be completely painless due to the application of the local anaesthetic.
- Once all the pulp has been removed, the canal will be cleaned and any excess debris will be removed. The canal will then be disinfected using an anti-bacterial solution so that Dr Olstein has a completely clean area to work with.
- Gutta-Percha will be used to fill the hole in canal and to seal the area to stop any further infection or bacteria from entering the area.
- A temporary filling will be inserted in the hole while the area recovers.
- If Dr Olstein is satisfied with the progress of the treated tooth a permanent filling will be inserted. The dentist may also recommend the fitting of a dental crown in order to safeguard the strength and structural integrity of the tooth.
So, there it is; nine easy, relatively pain free steps and you’ve prevented a potentially disastrous dental problem. If you’ve been trying to put up with that pain in your tooth because you’re too frightened to see the dentist, remember that putting off a simple procedure could mean you have to go through dozens of dental procedures. Allowing the infection to spread could lead to advanced gum disease, which requires extensive and expensive periodontics treatments or you could even lose your tooth as a result of the infection.
Dr Olstein is also adept, and highly experienced in all facets of sleep dentistry, so if your fear is overwhelming you, then sedation dentistry could be the answer to your root canal problem.
If you’d like to make an appointment with Dr George Olstein to discuss your root canal treatment, do not hesitate to contact us today. Our friendly team is always happy to answer any queries you might have.