When is root canal treatment necessary?
Treatment is recommended in cases of:
- Infection caused by deep decay or a large filling
- Trauma such as a blow to a tooth or constant striking of a tooth by teeth on the opposite jaw
- A crack or fracture in the tooth allowing bacteria to enter
- Teeth grinding leading to excessive wear close to the pulp.
The symptoms of damaged, diseased or inflamed dental pulp requiring root canal treatment include:
- Pain and pressure at the site of the tooth
- Hot and cold sensitivity
- Mobility of the tooth
- Swelling and tenderness in the gums surrounding the tooth
- Discolouration or darkening of the tooth
- The presence of pus at the site of the tooth
- Facial swelling
A diagnosis of the need for root canal treatment is made on the basis of symptoms reported by the patient, an examination of the tooth and x-rays of the tooth.
What are the benefits?
The main aim and benefit of root canal treatment is to save a tooth that would otherwise be extracted. Retaining natural teeth is considered the best solution from a dental perspective and prevents the need for replacement teeth, which can be time-consuming, painful and costly.
Root canal treatment can be very successful; however, there can be instances when issues can arise when:
- The body may not accept the treatment
- Fillings over time can disintegrate
- Hairline cracks that are not detected can lead to failure of the treatment. A crown after the root canal treatment may help prevent fractures progressing.
If a tooth requiring root canal treatment is left untreated, widespread gum and connective tissue infection may result as well as loss of the tooth. It is advisable to visit your dentist at the first sign of any of the above-mentioned symptoms associated with damaged, diseased or inflamed dental pulp.
There may be instances where your dentist may have to refer you to a root canal specialist (Endodontist) if the treatment is going to be complex.
The alternative treatment of having a root canal treatment is to have the tooth removed/extracted. After removal of the tooth the options to replace the tooth would be:
- Leave a gap
- Dental implant
- Removable denture