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Root Canal Treatment.
Modern dentistry now advocates for the conservation of natural teeth unlike before. While research and advancements in dentistry have paved the way for better materials for replacement of natural dentition, there is still no better alternative to one’s natural teeth.
It is for this reason that many dentists always recommend root canal treatments when possible, leaving extraction as a last resort.
What exactly is a root canal?
Before discussing what root canal treatment is, it would be better to know what a root canal is.
The innermost portion of the tooth is actually a hollow space that contains the blood vessels that provide nutrition to your tooth. It also contains the nerves which are responsible for pain perception. Together, this is called the pulp.
The upper portion of the teeth that you see in your mouth is called the crown. The space that houses the pulp at the level of the crown is called the pulp chamber.
The lower portion of the tooth which is embedded in bone is called the root. There may be one or more roots. The space that houses the part of the pulp located in the root, or roots, is called the root canal.
When do you need root canal treatment?
Infection in teeth usually start at the outermost layer of the teeth known as the enamel. When left unattended, decay starts to spread. This is the reason why it is recommended that fillings be done in order to prevent the further spread of decay on the tooth.
Unfortunately, when left to persist and spread, bacteria start to invade the pulp. When this happens, bacteria start to infect the pulp making it hard for the tooth to recover. This is most probably due to the fact that the pulp is an enclosed space, which makes it difficult for immune cells to help combat infection.
Because of this, root canal treatment is then performed in order to rid the tooth of infected pulp tissue, leaving both the pulp chamber and root canal clean from bacteria and decayed tissue.
How is root canal treatment done?
The dentist team first starts by placing what is called a “rubber dam” around your mouth. Think of it as a raincoat that is meant to protect you so you don’t ingest any of the medicaments, or even worse, instruments that will be used during treatment.
Once the dam is in place, the dentist then starts to remove all decayed tissue from the teeth. He then drills a hole that is big enough to provide access to the pulp chamber.
When proper access is achieved, he then starts to clean and shape the canals using different kinds of instrumentation.
Depending on the case, the dentist may recall you for another appointment or simply finish everything by filling up the spaces that were once occupied by pulp tissue.
The dentist may have to take xrays to check on the procedure to make sure that everything was done properly.
Most dentists nowadays also make use of dental loupes or microscopes to be able to properly see all the minute structures that need to be seen. This is to make sure that only decayed tissue is removed. It also makes it easier for the dentist to see all the “entry points” to the different root canal systems, which is quite common for multi-rooted teeth.
Is root canal treatment safe?
There has been a huge controversy surrounding root canal treatment in recent years with regards to its safety.
What has started from a theory established in the 1800’s has seen its way back in past years to stir doubt as to the procedure.
It has, however, been established that root canal treatment is an extremely safe procedure. It is highly recommended, especially when infection in the pulp occurs. It serves as a better form of treatment compared to tooth extraction, which should really be used as a last option for patients.
Does root canal treatment cause cancer?
This, again, questions the safety of root canal treatment.
There is no established link between root canal treatments and cancer. In fact, there is no established link between root canal treatments and other systemic diseases.
On the contrary, root canal treatments help rid the tooth of bacteria and other possible microbes that may be found in a decayed tooth. Some may even enter the bloodstream and cause more problems to organs, such as the heart or lungs.