Root canal treatment is a conservative and comfortable way to save a natural tooth when it gets badly decayed or infected.
Every tooth has three parts. The outer hard shell is enamel. Dentine underneath supports the enamel and also extends to form the roots. At the centre of the visible tooth is a pulp chamber. The pulp contains the nerve and blood supply of the tooth. The nerves and blood vessels reach the pulp chamber through canals passing within the roots.
Dental decay can progress to infect the pulp if it is left untreated. Initial pulp infection can be severely painful especially at night interfering with sleep. Infection then progresses around the roots into surrounding bone.
Advanced decay with infected pulp
Infection spread around the roots
During a root canal procedure, the pulp of the tooth containing infected blood vessels, nerves and tooth tissues are removed and the inside of the chamber and root canals is cleaned and sealed. Without treatment, the tissue surrounding the tooth will become inflamed and abscess may form.
It is easy to clean the pulp chamber due to its accessibility but cleaning the canals in roots is trickier. That’s why the focus is the root canal treatment.
No medication can treat an infected tooth as there is no blood supply to an infected or dead pulp. So, we have to scrub out the infected pulp tissue and then flush the canals with cleaning agents.
Once we are sure that the canals are sufficiently clean, we then seal them off and restore the tooth with a filling. A root canal treated tooth mostly need structural reinforcement with a crown to save it from fracture.
Root canal procedure is done through the following steps.
1. Root canal
2. Canal instrumentation or filing
3. Canal irrigation with cleaning agents
4. Canal filling – obturation
5. Tooth cavity
After ensuring the integrity of root canal treatment a functional tooth should be reinforced. Therefore, a crown is recommended to restore its functional form and strength as well as to ensure adequate seal around the tooth for long term.