A tooth is made of different layers, the white outside of the tooth you’re seeing is the enamel, inside the enamel is another hard layer called the dentin. At the center of the dentin, there is a small chamber called the pulp chamber that contains the nerves, arteries and veins. The pulp of the tooth inside its root is referred to as the root canal, and when the pulp is infected, blood vessels and nerves can die, causing sensitivity and inflammation.
An infected tooth never heals on its own. A root canal procedure can be performed as a last resort to save the tooth and prevent it from needing to be removed as a result of infection and bacteria.
A root canal procedure begins by first opening a hole in the top of the tooth, then removing the pulp tissue from inside, shaping and disinfecting the canals, and finally replacing the pulp tissue with a filling material.
According to the particular tooth, root canal therapy is about 85-95 percent successful. Many factors influence the treatment outcome: the patient’s general health, bone support around the tooth, strength of the tooth including possible fracture lines, shape and condition of the root and nerve canal(s).
Teeth treated with root canals must be protected during treatment. Between appointments, your tooth will have a temporary filling and therefore, you should avoid chewing on it. If this should come out, please call our office and arrange to have it replaced.
The tooth may normally be sensitive following appointments and even remain tender for a time after the treatment is completed. If sensitivity persist, and does not seem to be getting better, even several weeks after the root canal is finished, please let Dr. Rabeeh know.
Fractures of the tooth are one of the main reasons why root canal therapies fail. Unfortunately, some cracks that extend from the crown down into the root are invisible and hard to detect. They can occur on uncrowned teeth from traumatic injury, from biting on hard objects, habitual clenching or grinding or even just normal wear. Whether the fracture occurs before or after the root canal therapy, it may require extraction of the tooth.
Since teeth with root canal therapies are more likely to fracture than other teeth, Dr. Rabeeh recommends a crown to prevent future damage. Covering cusps with amalgam is another option. This is especially important with molar and bicuspid teeth.
Teeth treated with root canal therapy can still decay, but since the nerve (dental pulp) is gone, there will be no pain. As with other teeth, proper care of these teeth consists of good home care, a sensible diet and periodic dental check-ups.
With some teeth, conventional root canal therapy alone may not be sufficient. For example, if the canal(s) are severely bent or calcified, if there is substantial or longstanding infection in the bone around the tooth or a metal file becomes separated within a canal, the tooth may remain sensitive and a surgical procedure may be necessary to resolve the problem.
There are alternatives to root canal therapy. They include no treatment at all, extraction with nothing to fill the space and extraction followed by an implant, a bridge, partial denture to fill the space.
Dr. Rabeeh will discuss your options during your consultation at Dental Care Solutions.