Getting to the root of the matter with dental health
It’s unfortunate but true that our teeth can sometimes deteriorate below the surface and this can cause infections beyond the reach of standard dental hygiene and care.
When infection strikes at the root of a tooth, it can be very painful and can even lead to tooth removal if not treated quickly. The good news is that endodontic treatment, or root canal therapy as it is commonly known, is very effective at addressing such issues and, if treated in a timely manner, can help to keep the tooth in place.
Endodontic treatment is the practice of diagnosing, treating and preventing disorder of the dental pulp, nerves and tissues surrounding the root of a tooth.
The root canal procedure involves removing infected pulp tissue from the canals around the tooth and then sealing it back up to prevent further damage or risk to the tooth nerve.
If you’re concerned you may have an infected or badly damaged tooth, contact us to make an appointment or read more below about the root canal procedure.
Learn more about Root Canals and Endodontics
On this page
Sometimes damage to a tooth through breakage or decay can affect the dental pulp, which is the soft tissue at the core of the tooth. If this tissue is injured, it can create infection at the interior of the tooth that cannot be fixed through standard filling procedures. A root canal is a procedure to remove infected dental pulp and preserve the interior of the tooth.
Dentists can repair damage or decay to the exterior of a tooth using fillings but when the injury or infection gets inside the tooth and affects the dental pulp, this is called Endontonic Disease and usually requires a root canal procedure to save the tooth.
All the nerves and blood vessels attached to the interior of teeth are contained in dental pulp and run down to the root. The presence of infection in the dental pulp can carry down through the root canal and into the critical support structures of your mouth.
If the dental pulp at the interior of a tooth is injured or infected, this may manifest as severe tooth ache, prolonged sensitivity to hot or cold food and beverages, pain to the touch, swelling of the jaw and face, tenderness when eating and discolouration of the tooth.
Luckily, fully formed teeth do not need dental pulp to function and so the pulp can be removed.
During a root canal treatment, the dentist removes the infected pulp. The root canal is cleaned and sealed to prevent any bacteria from entering the region.
As root canals are quite often performed when there has been a large area of break or decay to the tooth, a crown may be placed over the top of the affected tooth to preserve it from further risk.
Root canal treatment may take several appointments depending on how advanced the infection inside the tooth has become and how complex a treatment is needed to repair and retain the tooth.
Most dentists can perform routine Root Canal therapy but more complex circumstances may require treatment from an Endodontist.
Endodontics is a specialised field of dentistry that addresses the treatment of infection or disease inside the structure of the tooth. The field takes its meaning from the Greek endo (inside) and odons (tooth).
An Endodontist is a specialised practitioner of dental science that has typically spent an additional three to four years studying studied the physiology and pathology of dental pulp and the specific soft tissues that surround the root structure.
To become an Endodontist means to have an expert level of knowledge about the biology of normal dental pulp and awareness of periradicular (surrounding the root) conditions that may indicate injury or disease.
Endontontics is most commonly associated with Root Canal Therapy which involves the removal of infected dental pulp and the sealing of the root canal. Some of the additional treatments and procedures that require endondontic skills include:
- Nonsurgical treatment of root canal systems that have become blocked
- Pulpotomy: performed on primary (children’s) teeth to replace some damaged pulp with a special medicated filling and try to preserve the rest of the pulp long enough to allow the adult tooth to come through
- Pulp capping: an alternative to full Root Canal Therapy that may be performed in specific circumstances where there is a very small nerve exposure but the nerve itself is still healthy enough to repair
- Replantation of teeth that have been knocked from their sockets
- Procedures requiring partial removal or separation of the root, sometimes with a coronial portion of the tooth (e.g Apicoectomy, hemisection)
- Retreatment and repair of teeth that have received previous endodontic treatment.
The cost of a root canal treatment may vary depending on whether you use an Endodontist who specialises in the treatment or a dentist doing the treatment. It can also depend on the area the dental practice is situated and how much experience the dentist has.
Any surgical or invasive procedure carries risks. Before proceeding with a surgical or invasive procedure, you should seek a second opinion from an appropriately qualified health practitioner.
Visit a dentist today and find out if your wisdom teeth need to be extracted.