For many people, the mere mention of the words "root-canal therapy" can be worrying. You may have even heard that the treatment is often carried out as a matter of course when in fact it isn't really necessary. So what's the point of root-canal therapy, and do you really need it?
What root-canal therapy is
In the centre of each of your teeth, beneath the hard layers of dentin and enamel, lies soft tissue called pulp. The pulp is full of blood vessels, connective tissue and nerves, which enable the roots of the teeth to grow during their developmental stage. When the teeth are fully erupted and developed, the pulp becomes redundant, as the tooth derives its nourishment from the surrounding tissues.
Sometimes, the pulp becomes inflamed or infected, resulting in pain. This inflammation can be due to a variety of causes including:
- serious tooth decay
- faulty crowns
- cracks or chips to the tooth
- many dental procedures on the same tooth
- trauma to the tooth
Without remedial treatment, such as root-canal therapy, the affected tooth will become extremely painful, and an abscess could result.
Root-canal therapy is usually carried out over one or two dental appointments. The treatment is carried out under a local anaesthetic and should be no more uncomfortable than a normal filling.
During root-canal therapy, the pulp inside the affected tooth is removed, and the interior of the remaining tooth shell is thoroughly cleaned and disinfected. Your dentist will then fill the shell with a material called gutta-percha, which is sealed into place inside the tooth. When the root-canal therapy is complete, the tooth is restored with a filling or a crown, and this leaves the tooth perfectly natural looking and pain free.
Why you should have root-canal therapy
The removal of infected or inflamed tooth pulp and its incumbent nerves through root-canal treatment means that you will no longer experience pain in that tooth, and there will be no chance of recurrent abscesses.
Your natural tooth will be saved, and you'll be able to eat normally and efficiently again, saving you from uneven wear on the teeth surrounding the one that was previously problematic. This could mean fewer expensive dental treatments and many trouble-free years without further problems.
Root-canal therapy can help you to keep your natural teeth without the need for continual visits to the dentist for the repeated treatment of painful teeth and abscesses.