Root Canal Treatment Relieves Pain, Saves Tooth
A battle exists in dentistry that’s been going on for a hundred years and persists even today. At Greenstein Dental, we want to educate you about the issues and arguments behind root canals.
Root canal technique and instrumentation improve with technology and the purpose remains the same: eliminate pain and infection to save your tooth! However, long-term health of both the tooth and your overall well-being are still in question.
The canal system inside a tooth contains the blood and nerve supply to the healthy tooth. While most patients assume that there are 1, 2 or 3 canals based on the number of roots per tooth, the reality is far different. The analogy we share with our clients is that the root canal system of a tooth is just like the root system of a tree or plant – there are main roots, then hundreds, if not thousands, of additional rootlets continuing throughout the interior of each tooth. Any time you’ve ever taken a shrub or tree out of its pot to replant it in the yard – what did it look like? All those roots coursing through the soil, right? Well, canals and tubules throughout teeth are pretty much the same.
The question is: Can dentists properly and permanently clean the interior of a tooth, effectively seal it from further infection while protecting the surrounding oral environment and circulatory system from spreading any remaining anaerobic bacteria left within the canals? It’s a serious concern that should be considered by every patient before deciding whether root canal therapy is in your best interest.
Root Canal Treatment
Root Canal (endodontics) is suggested once a deep cavity irreversibly affects the nerve inside the middle of your tooth, also known as the dental pulp. This procedure is done to save the infected tooth allowing it to once again function properly without sensitivity or pain.
It’s necessary to remove the infection because it could spread to your healthy teeth nearby or further locations in the head and neck. While the dental pulp is vital in helping your tooth develop and grow, your tooth can still function once it’s removed during a root canal.
There’s a chance you could need a root canal and have no symptoms. However, here are a few indications that a tooth may require root canal treatment:
- Temperature sensitivity
- Pain when biting down or chewing food
- Throbbing, aching tooth
- Swollen gums or face
- X-rays showing dark area around root tips
During root canal therapy, the tooth is opened and the canals are cleaned. The time of treatment depends on the number of canals in your tooth, but most times, the procedure is completed in just one visit. We will likely recommend antibiotics to help heal the area around the root tip and reduce any swelling that may be present. After endodontic therapy, teeth are commonly protected from further damage by placing a crown which prevents the now-brittle tooth from breaking and restores proper color to match your remaining teeth.
Over the years, I’ve seen many patients with numerous teeth showing root canal fillings. Unfortunately, a high percentage of these teeth have signs of latent infection (abscess) around the root tips. Research has revealed that high levels of toxicity can develop around the tooth and beyond due to the continued presence – and multiplying effect – of the anaerobic (no oxygen) bacteria that remain inside the tooth. And, the reason is two-fold: the challenging root anatomy with far too many canals and tubules to be completely disinfected combined with the removal of the tooth’s inner defense system. Without a pulp, there’s simply no circulation left within the tooth to allow your immune system and medications to fight against the growing infection. There are many instances of other organs and systems in the body suffering from the continual presence of these toxins moving through the remaining circulation just outside the root tip within the jaw bone.
In acute situations where a pulp is infected, many patients do well with root canal treatment. The challenge begins as we evaluate the tooth over the long haul irrespective of an adequate crown placed to seal and protect the tooth. Furthermore, a bad bite or fracture line, if present, jeopardizes the long-term success of this therapy. Speak candidly with your dentist so that all options are on the table for your consideration including the removal of your tooth and alternate restorative options.