Root canal treatment involves the removal of the pulp tissue from the tooth in the event that it gets infected or inflamed. This is the innermost soft tissue of the tooth, and it can become infected or inflamed for a variety of reasons.
When this happens you might notice pain, prolonged sensitivity to heat or cold, discolouration of the tooth, swelling, tenderness of the overlying gums or a bad taste in the mouth.
On the other hand, there may be no symptoms at all, yet if pulp inflammation or infection is left untreated it can eventually cause the loss of the supporting bone. However, if you come in for regular dental examinations it’s unlikely that such a significant change in your mouth will go unnoticed.
The dental pulp contains blood vessels and nerves and extends from the crown to the tips of the root or roots. It can become infected or inflamed through deep decay or from an extensive dental restoration, a crack or fracture due to trauma, excessive wear of enamel and dentine leaving the pulp, or as a result of severe gum disease.
Root canal treatment saves teeth that would otherwise have to be extracted and lost. Afterwards the tooth has no vital tissues within it, yet there are still vital tissues surrounding the root such as the gum, periodontal membrane and supporting bone. This means a treated tooth can function normally and be maintained with routine dental care and oral hygiene.
The treatment procedure is relatively comfortable and often painless, as the tooth is anaesthetised during treatment. Afterwards the tooth may be sensitive or tender for a few days due to inflammation of the surrounding tissues.
This discomfort can be relieved by taking mild analgesics or painkillers from over the counter at a pharmacy. However, if the pain persists and is severe, or swelling occurs, let your dentist know.
Benefits of root canal treatment
- You save a tooth that might otherwise be lost through infection
- It doesn’t hurt
- Afterwards your tooth will feel the same as normal
- By saving your tooth and stopping the spread of infection you’re protecting the rest of your teeth and gums and improving the chances of keeping all your natural teeth for life