Simply put, root canal therapy is the removal of the nerve tissue inside a tooth, and replacing it with a filling material. Usually this is done to remove a diseased dental pulp while preserving the tooth.
Root Canal Therapy
Why do a Root Canal?
Our options for treating a dead or dying nerve are limited. When the nerve inside the tooth dies, the body cannot repair it. It's a problem of anatomy. The entrance to the nerve chamber at the root tip is so small that new blood vessels cannot find their way back into the tooth when the original ones have been destroyed.
Because the inside of the tooth cannot heal there are only 2 options. Remove the tooth with the diseased pulp tissue inside it (pull the tooth), or leave the tooth in place and remove the diseased pulp (root canal).
How is it done?
A small hole is drilled into the tooth down into the pulp tissue. Tiny files and antiseptic solutions are used to remove the nerve and sanitise the pulp chamber. When the cleaning is completed, the tooth may be filled with a temporary antibacterial filling material to ensure all bacteria are gone . When your Dentist is satisfied the tissue and bacteria are gone, they will fill the pulp chamber with a rubber like material and seal the opening.
Long term care and prognosis
Two major factors determine the outcome of a root canal;
- how well cleaned and filled the tooth is
- how much tooth remains.
The dentist has control of the first, but no control of the second. Teeth that require root canal are usually badly damaged prior to treatment. Further tooth is removed during root canal treatment. As a result most back teeth that have had a root canal will need a crown or onlay. Without this added protection they will be at high risk of fracture.
Root Canal Failure
Everybody has heard of a root canal that didn't work. Failures usually occur when something inside the tooth has been missed. If any tissue is left behind during a root canal, it can act as a food source for bacteria and cause a new infection to start. Long term followups show success rates in the 85-90% range at 20 years. In the event of failure re-treatment is generally required. These success rates