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Dentists believe that our natural teeth are the best teeth. This is why they are doing their best to ensure that you don’t lose any. A successful root canal treatment allows you to keep the tooth instead of having it extracted.
By keeping your natural teeth, you prevent other teeth from losing their alignment and cause jaw problems or gum disease. By saving them, you avoid having to replace them by a bridge or a dental implant.
Teeth are composed of three hard layers:
The space within these layers is called the canal. It is filled with tissue: the dental pulp. This is a soft tissue that contains nerves and blood vessels allowing the tooth to grow. Once the tooth has completed its growth, it can survive without the pulp. If the pulp becomes infected, it should be removed. The treatment is called root canal treatment or endodontic treatment.
The dental pulp can be damaged by a crack in the enamel, a deep cavity or an accident. Bacteria can infiltrate the tooth and thus infect the pulp, which can cause pain or inflammation. However, sometimes the pulp can become infected or die without pain.
Sometimes, if the tooth is badly damaged, your dentist may conclude that the pulp of the tooth might not survive.
In all cases, root canal treatment can reduce, even prevent the appearance of symptoms and save the tooth.
A root canal treatment may take one or several visits, depending on the complexity of the anatomy of the canal and the magnitude of the damage to the pulp.
Sometimes, if the infection has spread from the tooth to the bone – causing an abscess – the infection should be drained until the canal is sealed.
Your tooth can remain sensitive 1 to 2 weeks after treatment. Intense pain and inflammation are rarely experienced. If this is the case, you must call your dentist as soon as possible.
To keep the look and function of a natural tooth as much as possible, your tooth must be restored using a filling or a crown.
The restoration type will depend on the strength of what remains of the treated tooth. A posterior tooth will probably receive a crown because more pressure is exerted on these teeth when you chew. If too much of the natural tooth is missing, your dentist may use a dental post to hold the crown in place. A discoloured tooth can be either bleached or covered with a crown or a veneer.
Although root canal treatments are successful in most cases, a second treatment is sometimes necessary. The filling material is removed and the canal cleaned again, prepared and sealed.
Your dentist may resort to surgery if conventional root canal treatment cannot be done or has not been successful. Surgery is used to:
Most of the time, a tooth treated by an endodontist can be saved. But when all attempts fail, the tooth has to be extracted.