A Guide to Root Canal Treatment
Root canal treatment is a technique used by emergency dentists to remove the inner pulp from a tooth through the root canal and is often considered one of the most daunting for patients.
The procedure is usually carried out when a tooth becomes infected, with the possibility of the problem spreading to different areas of the mouth and face, which could lead to a painful abscess.
Emergency dentists are required to carry out root canal treatment if an infection of the tooth’s pulp – which is the confluence of blood vessels and nerve endings that provide nutrients – is in danger of harming the overall health of the tooth.
For the pulp to become infected, the decay needs to work its way through the protective layers of enamel and dentin that surround this sensitive spot. Tooth decay forms due to a build-up of plaque on the teeth, with the bacteria in plaque reacting with sugar and carbohydrates to form acid that erodes enamel and harms gum tissue.
If patients fail to maintain their oral hygiene with an effective at-home routine and do not attend regular appointments with a dental professional, it is more likely that cavities will develop on the tooth that can rot through to the more sensitive pulp.
When a tooth becomes infected, the whole mouth can be put at risk. If the issue is detected early, it is possible to remove the infection without damaging the pulp and requiring root canal treatment. During this process, an emergency dentist will fill the cavity and the tooth will be protected against decay.
However, the procedure used to treat a severely infected tooth is certainly not as simple. Root canal treatment may be required if the pulp needs to be removed completely.
What are the symptoms of an infection?
Individuals who are suffering from severe tooth decay are likely to experience a deep, throbbing toothache that fails to go away for a long period. Additionally, the infected tooth could be more sensitive to hot and cold, due to increased pressure placed on the nerve endings as a result of the excess fluid.
The discomfort caused by the onset of a pulp infection can develop into an abscess, which is an area where puss from the tooth infection has gathered. This can be extremely painful for patients and further increases the pressure on the tooth. In addition, the issue can lead to feverish symptoms, with sufferers developing a higher temperature than normal.
What happens during root canal treatment?
An emergency dentist’s aim during root canal treatment is to remove the pulp from inside the tooth while preserving the structure and shape. This process is usually performed under local anaesthetic, with many patients expected to attend several appointments with their dental professional.
During the procedure, a hole will be drilled into the tooth to reveal the infection and allow the dentist to scrap away the pulp and infection together through the root canal. This could be carried out through a number of different root canals to ensure the infection is removed entirely.
Patients often emerge from the treatment realising there was little need for worry or fear before the procedure, with most people feeling little discomfort in the days after. Upon the removal of the pulp, which keeps the teeth alive, the blood supply and essential nutrients are cut off.
When the emergency dentist has removed the infected pulp from inside the tooth, the substance is replaced with a material called Gutta Percha. Its use allows the pearly white to remain rooted into the jawbone and the infection will be unable to return once the tooth has been refilled.
A dental crown is usually placed over the newly filled tooth to provide further protection, even if the outer layers were unaffected by the infection.
What are the alternative treatments?
Due to the serious nature of root canal treatment, the only alternative is to have the infected tooth taken out completely. This is due to the advanced stage of the infection and the limited options available to ensure the issue is reversed. Simply filling a cavity when a tooth is seriously infected does not provide enough protection and could worsen the problem.
The key to ensuring any daunting dental procedures are avoided is to monitor the health of teeth and seek treatment to treat tooth decay and cavities before they get worse. For this reason, it is important for members of the public to attend dental appointments on a regular basis to catch any issues before they worsen.
Patients who are worried about undergoing daunting procedures, or those who suffer from dental anxiety, may ask their emergency dentist to carry out a complete extraction to prevent the pain of a root canal. However, most professionals will advise against this in order to preserve their natural bite.
Following the root canal procedure, the previously infected pearly white does not require any additional or unusual care and attention, despite the fact that it is essentially dead. The crown will protect the tooth, so the main responsibility of the patient is to clean their teeth on a regular basis to ensure plaque and bacteria do not collect around the gums.
How do I look after my teeth?
Taking care of overall health, as well as teeth and gums, is vital for individuals to enjoy a bright, white, dazzling smile. Brushing teeth twice every day using a fluoride toothpaste is one of the most important factors in ensuring plaque is unable to build up on or around the pearly whites.
Flossing is also a major factor in maintaining oral health because it can remove potentially harmful substances from hard-to-reach areas of the mouth. It is recommended that members of the public floss their teeth after every meal. However, those with hectic everyday lifestyles may be unable to do so and should therefore ensure they carry out the task at least once every day.
Consumption of a wide variety of healthy and nutritious foods can be extremely beneficial for oral health, with items such as fruit, vegetables, rice, pasta, fish, meat, eggs and some dairy products helping to make teeth shine with a healthy glow if eaten in moderation.
Health-conscious individuals should avoid eating foods that contain a large quantity of sugar in a bid to prevent the onset of tooth decay. Sugary items should only be consumed at mealtimes, rather than as a snack, to allow individuals to brush their teeth after.
Sweets, chocolates, cakes, biscuits, breakfast cereals, ice cream, dried fruit in syrup and fizzy drinks are among the items that should be avoided as much as possible to allow teeth to remain healthy and a person’s smile to keep its natural appearance for as long as possible.
In addition, smoking can stop people enjoying healthy teeth, because the harmful substance contained in tobacco turns teeth yellow, can cause bad breath and significantly increase the risk of gum disease, breathing problems and lung cancer.
Alcohol can also be particularly detrimental to the overall and oral health of individuals of all ages, with excessive consumption of beers, wines and spirits linked to a significantly higher risk of developing mouth cancer. According to figures from Cancer Research UK, up to 80 per cent of mouth cancer patients say they frequently drink alcohol.
Additionally, heavy drinking can erode the protective layer of enamel on the outside of teeth, leading to decay.
Each tooth is specifically designed to do its own job in the area of the mouth it is located. With pearly whites allowing individuals to chew and digest food, as well as speak and enunciate appropriately, it is vital for individuals to ensure they carry out simple tasks to ensure their oral health is maintained for as long as possible.
The practice is open Seven days a week from 8am to 11pm for routine dentistry and we offer a 24 hour emergency dental walk-in service 365 days a year. You can book a consultation at any time by calling our reception team 24 hours a day on 0208 547 9997 or contact us during our working hours by email.