Endodontic therapy is a sequence of treatments for the pulp of a tooth whose end result is the elimination of infection and protection of the decontaminated tooth from future microbial invasion in order to prevent the formation of abscess and eventual spreading of the infection to the surrounding tissues. This set of procedures is commonly referred to as a root canal treatment; root canals and their associated pulp chamber are the anatomical hollows within a tooth which are naturally inhabited by nerve tissue, blood vessels and other cellular entities, whereas endodontic therapy includes the complete removal of these structures, the subsequent cleaning, shaping and decontamination of these hollows with the use of tiny files and irrigating solutions and the obturation, or filling, of the decontaminated root canals with an inert filling, such as gutta percha and a usually eugenol-based cement. After the procedure the tooth will be “dead”, and if the infection is spread at apex, root end surgery would be required.
Although the procedure is painless when done properly, the root canal remains the stereotypically fearsome dental operation.
How is the pulp damaged?
The pulp can be damaged as a result of:
- Untreated tooth decay – causing bacteria to spread into your tooth and infect the pulp.
- Severe gum disease – causing gums to pull away from the teeth, thereby creating a gap called a periodontal pocket, which traps bacteria that can infect the pulp.
- Injury – due to accident that affects and infects the pulp.
What happens if the tooth is left untreated?
If left untreated it leads to the formation of an abscess, which is the collection of pus as a result of the multiplying bacteria, and it pushes beyond the root tips. As the abscess expands within the bone, the tooth rises slightly out of its socket making it feel tender when you bite down. Without treatment, this infection can further spread to the surrounding tissues and nerves resulting in
- Difficulty in swallowing
How can root canal treatment help?
Root canal treatment removes the infected pulp and disinfects the pulp chamber thereby stopping the spread and formation of further infection. This helps to retain the teeth in its natural form.