The pulp is the soft tissue deep inside the tooth. It extends from the tooth crown to the tip of each root, and contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue.
The infection or inflammation of the pulp can be caused by:
- repeated dental work to a tooth
- break down of filling or crown
- deep cavity
- gum disease
- crack or chip in tooth
- extreme wear (Bruxism)
Symptoms of inflamed pulp may include:
- pain on biting or chewing
- sensitivity to hot or cold drinks
- tooth discolouration
- swelling or soreness in the gum surrounding the tooth
- loosening of the tooth
- facial swelling
Complications which may occur if the infection is left untreated:
- spreading of infection to surrounding tissues, with/without abscess formation
- localised bone loss
- loss of tooth
Root Canal Treatment is performed in one or more visits, depending on the extent of the pulp infection and the complexity of the root canals in your tooth.
- the procedure is usually performed using local anaesthetic
- the affected tooth is isolated with a thin rubber sheet (called a ‘rubber dam’)
- the decayed portions of the tooth and any affected filling are removed
- the infected pulp (nerve) is removed
- special instruments are used to thoroughly clean and shape the root canals and remove bacteria, pus and debris
- the root canal is flushed with disinfectants and dried
- antibiotic medication is placed in the canals and the tooth is sealed with a temporary filling. You may have to wait a few weeks before the pulp canal is filled
- the infection-free root canal is sealed with durable rubber-based material
- the tooth then undergoes restoration
- if there is considerable loss of tooth structure, a crown may be indicated.
The alternative of not having a Root Canal Treatment is to have the tooth/teeth extracted. Although some people might think that an extraction is an easy and quick relief for the pain, it is usually best to keep as may natural teeth as possible. If a tooth is lost, neighbouring teeth can be overstressed and can drift out of occlusion (bite) resulting in gum disease and compromising biting and chewing.