Root canal treatment can help save a damaged tooth. When the pulp [the soft tissue inside the tooth that contains the nerve and blood] is diseased or injured, the pulp dies. The most common cause of this is a fractured tooth, deep cavity, a deep filling or advanced gum disease, all of which can expose the pulp to the bacteria found in saliva. This often manifests itself as severe toothache. The bacteria cause infection inside the tooth, if left untreated the infection spreads to the tissues at the tip of the root forming an abscess. Without treatment, the tooth may become very painful resulting in a ‘tooth ache’ and may eventually have to be removed, but if caught early enough your dentist can save your tooth with a root canal filling.
When the pulp tissue or nerve has been damaged and is dead, it needs to be cleaned out of the tooth to prevent an abscess forming. This is done using very fine files to access and clean out the narrow nerve canals. This can be a lengthy process, sometimes taking two visits. We at this practice, however, use the latest techniques and equipment to ensure that this procedure is completed quickly, painlessly and efficiently and often within one visit.
The main difference between a regular tooth and root filled tooth is that without the living tissue within the tooth, it loses some of its slight elasticity and becomes more brittle. We do NOT usually recommend Amalgam fillings after root canal treatment as this often weakens the tooth further.
We prefer to use a tooth colored material which internally binds to the tooth by bonding to the remaining tooth structure thereby strengthening the whole tooth. Where the cavity is large and the remaining tooth structure weak, we may further recommend placing a crown which bonds over the remaining core of the tooth to strengthen the whole structure.