Root canal treatment is a routine procedure that is used when bacteria and plaque reach a tooth's inner chamber and infect the blood and nerve supply. This can be caused by poor oral hygiene or an accident. Once the decay has entered the tooth it must be removed to stop the infection from reaching surrounding teeth and the jawbone.
Root canal treatment involves entering the dental chamber, to clean away all infection and sterilise the tooth canals and dental chamber. The infected pulp inside is removed and filled, and the tooth is then sealed or capped. Root canal treatment is carried out under local anaesthetic, so you will feel no pain. But it can take a number of visits to completely clean and seal the tooth.
After root canal treatment you should treat the tooth like your own natural teeth; brushing, flossing and using mouthwash daily is vital to stop the infection from returning.
Once the tooth has been cleaned and sterilised, filling material will be added to seal up the dental chamber. A dental crown may also be added to provide further strength and protection. The tooth that has been treated is technically dead, the the dental pulp and nerves inside being gone, but with a crown or filling you can continue to use your tooth as you would any other.
Dental infection can often progress unnoticed, with no pain or discomfort evident until the damage is done. Bacteria and plaque eat away at the enamel tooth surface, then at the dentin layer of the tooth and finally into the dental chamber itself. It is around the last stage that you will finally start to feel pain, which highlights how important it is to maintain good oral hygiene.
If this infection within the tooth is left to progress the damage becomes even worse. The decay can spread from the inner dental pulp into the gums and jawbone, leading to a severely painful and dangerous dental abscess. This can then cause permanent damage to the jaw and the tooth will be completely unsalvageable.
Root canal treatment can affectively save the tooth and prevent such infection from spreading, before the damage ruins your oral health.