A Root Canal (or Endodontic) treatment is required when the pulp (where the nerves and blood vessels reside in the tooth - see illustration) becomes infected or inflamed. Infection is caused by bacteria entering into the root canal from a crack, loose filling, decaying cavity or if injury exposes the nerve. Symptoms usually lead to hot and cold sensitivity, throbbing, aching, swelling and pain when chewing.
The pain is caused by the abscess creating pressure around the root tip as it tries to ‘escape’ and expel itself from the infected area. It is also possible that no symptoms occur with the infection although there can be indications that the tooth is dead because it turns grey or black in colour. Although symptoms can subside over time it is important to have a root canal performed as an infected tooth can lead to an infection flaring up at any time and worse; loss of the tooth itself. Unfortunately antibiotics cannot resolve the pain or outcome of a needed root canal. If an infected tooth is left untreated it will lead to pain, swelling and may cause loss of bone around the tooth.
A root canal is necessary in order to bring an unhealthy tooth back to health. In fact a tooth whose nerves are dead, requiring a filling, crown or bridge work for restoration will require a root canal before dental restoration work can begin. Root canals generally take one or two visits with Dr. Rogers and may require some additional restoration work such as a dental crown or inlay / onlay because root-treated teeth are in fact dead and weaker than living teeth. Additional restoration work after a root canal may be required because of the increased risk of the tooth fracturing under pressure when chewing.
It is important to mention that because of the complexity of the root canal anatomy that it may be impossible to eliminate all bacteria causing the infection so there is an outside chance of failure and a root canal cannot be guaranteed. Dr. Derek Rogers does have years of experience in carrying out successful root canals for his patients.