Root canal treatment is also known as endodontic treatment and is a great way to save a badly infected tooth. Quite often treatment will preserve the natural tooth for decades or even for life, but everybody is slightly different and the success of a root canal can be affected by various factors. These factors can include the following:
- It’s been found that having root canal treatment earlier rather than later can help prolong the life of the tooth. For example, having root canal treatment before the infection can spread from the tooth into the surrounding bone will be more effective.
- Success can also be down to the time taken to complete treatment. Once the root canal has been cleaned out it is often temporarily filled to make sure the bacteria have been eliminated, before being permanently restored with either a filling or a crown. It’s important to ensure you return to your dentist for follow-up treatments in a timely manner so the tooth can be permanently filled or crowned as soon as possible.
- Some teeth are easier to treat than others. The front teeth only have one root canal whereas back teeth have several. It can often be trickier to treat back teeth and to gain access to all the root canals so they can be thoroughly cleaned out.
Front teeth can sometimes be restored with a filling, but back teeth are generally restored with a crown. This is because the back teeth are subjected to much heavier forces during chewing, and teeth that have had root canal treatment can become more brittle over time, increasing the risk of fractures. Protecting the tooth with a crown helps ensure this will not happen.
Most people who have root canal treatment will find it extremely successful, and the tooth will be problem free for many years to come.
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If your dentist gives you the news that you need a root canal, it’s likely that you might cringe. However, sometimes a root canal is the absolute best way to save your tooth. Finding out more details about the procedure, its purpose, and what you can expect may make you feel better about following your dentist’s advice.
The goal of a root canal is to repair a tooth that is acutely decayed or infected. The nerve and pulp of your tooth are taken out so the inside of your tooth can be cleaned. Often, a root canal is your only choice for a tooth that is in such poor condition. Without treatment, infection is likely and an abscess can develop. This painful complication occurs when the infection spreads deep into your tooth beyond the ends of the roots.
The process of getting a root canal takes several dental office visits. It is sometimes performed at your regular dentist, or you may see a specialist called an endodontist. First, an X-ray will help the doctor determine the exact requirements of your case. Anesthesia or topical numbing may be used, depending on your procedure. Often patients choose anesthesia to be more at ease during the root canal. The doctor will then drill an access hole into your tooth, and begin the thorough process of cleaning out the tooth. The pulp, bacteria, nerve tissue, and any other debris will be removed. After cleaning is complete, the tooth will be sealed and a temporary filling placed to keep the area clean until the next appointment. At that time, the interior of your tooth will be filled and sealed, and a final filling will be placed on top. The last step may include a restoration like a crown to restore complete function and protect the tooth from further damage.
Although you’ve probably heard root canals are very painful, many patients say it’s no worse than having a cavity filled. Your tooth may be sensitive for a few days, which ibuprofen should control. You should be able to return to your regular activities the day after your procedure.
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