Root Canal Therapy
Our Winnipeg dentists perform root canals to save a tooth whose inner pulp has become damaged or infected.
What is a root canal?
At the centre of your tooth is an area of soft tissue called the pulp. This pulp contains the tooth's nerves, veins, arteries and lymph vessels. Root canals are very small, thin divisions that branch out from the top pulp chamber and down to the tip of the root. A given tooth can have just one or up to four root canals.
Why does my tooth hurt?
When the inner pulp of a tooth becomes infected (usually as a result of a deep cavity, a fracture or injury) it can die. Damaged or dead pulp causes increased blood flow and cellular activity, which results in pressure that cannot be relieved from inside the tooth.
The main symptom of tooth pulp damage is sharp pain in the tooth, commonly felt when biting or when exposed to hot or cold temperatures. It's important to note, however, that these symptoms can also be indicative of other issues, so a potential pulp infection needs to be confirmed by an x-ray and other diagnostic tests.
Why do I need a root canal procedure?
Unfortunately, the infected tooth pulp won't heal itself and so treatment is necessary. If left untreated, the bone around the tooth will start to degenerate and eventually the tooth will fall out. The pain will continue to worsen until the patient is forced to seek emergency dental attention.
The only treatment alternative to a root canal is an extraction. However, extractions are not recommended unless absolutely necessary, because missing teeth can cause the teeth around them to shift, resulting in a bad bite.
An extraction is less expensive that a root canal at the outset, but the space left behind will need to be filled by a dental implant or a bridge and these treatments are usually more expensive than a root canal therapy.
What is involved in root canal therapy?
Once we establish that a root canal procedure is necessary, we will either perform the treatment here at our dental office or refer you to an endodontist (a pulp specialist) if your case is unusually complex.
A root canal procedure may be completed over the course of a single appointment; however, at times multiple appointments are necessary. You will first be given a local anesthetic to numb the area and a rubber sheet will be placed around the tooth to isolate it.
Your dentist will then clean out the pulp chamber to eliminate any infected or diseased material. Subsequently the canals within the root(s) will be cleaned and shaped. Medication may be applied to the area to fight off bacteria.
Depending on the condition of the tooth, a dental crown may be sealed temporarily to guard against re-contamination.
Alternatively, the tooth may be left open to drain or we may go right ahead and fill the canals. The filling is made of a rubber-like material to prevent re-contamination.
If the tooth structure is insufficient at this point, a post can be inserted above the canal filling to help retain the filling above. Once filled, the area is permanently sealed. Finally, a gold or porcelain crown is placed over the treated tooth to strengthen its structure and improve its appearance.
What happens after root canal treatment?
You may feel some discomfort for a few days after your root canal procedure, which can be controlled by an over-the-counter pain killer.
From this point on, brush and floss carefully and regularly, avoid chewing hard foods on the treated tooth and see your dentist every six months, or as prescribed.
For more information or to book an appointment for a consultation, please contact us!
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