Endodontics is the branch of dentistry that deals with the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of diseases and injuries that inflict the dental pulp and root canals of teeth. Endodontics, popularly known as root canal treatment, involves the following:
- Preserving or removing the infected dental pulp.
- Cleaning and shaping the root canals.
- Disinfecting the contaminated root canals to eliminate bacterial infestation.
- Filling the root canals with an inert filling to avoid future infections.
- Restoring the damaged tooth to its natural appearance and function using dental crowns.
An endodontist is a dentist who specializes in saving teeth with root canal treatments. Endodontists use trailblazing technology to execute complex endodontic procedures and relieve patients of the agony associated with root canal infections.
What causes a root canal infection?
The tooth structure consists of the enamel, dentin, pulp chamber, root canals, and roots. The pulp chamber and root canals lie below the dentin and house nerve tissues and blood vessels, together known as the pulp. The pulp is responsible for nourishing the tooth and sensing hot and cold temperatures.
The pulp is encased safely at the center of the tooth and is covered by the dentin and enamel. However, sometimes, bacteria find their way into the pulp chamber and infect the blood vessels and nerve tissues present inside it. Pulpitis or root canal infection may be caused due to any of the following reasons:
- Acids and bacteria build up on the surface of teeth and lead to cavities and caries. If left untreated, cavities and caries grow deeper into the dentin and invade the pulp chamber. This invasion provides bacteria a direct opportunity to infect the pulp.
- Dental injuries like chips, cracks, and fractures also expose the pulp to bacteria and its disease-causing toxins. A microscopic entry into the pulp chamber is enough for the bacteria to destroy the pulp.
- Incorrect dental procedures create weak spots inside the tooth and leave it vulnerable to diseases and bacterial infestation.
- Repetitive dental trauma caused due to dental problems like jaw misalignment and tooth grinding and clenching (Bruxism).
What are the symptoms of root canal infection?
Root canal infections are characterized by the following symptoms:
- Deep decay that seems to have consumed the entire tooth.
- Persistent pain that increases while chewing or biting.
- Sensitivity towards hot and cold temperatures and sweet foods and beverages.
- Swollen, red, and tender gums around the infected tooth.
- Darkening or discoloring of the infected tooth.
- Abscess formation in and around the infected region.
- Persistent and chronic bad breath even after regular brushing and flossing.
- Fever along with swelling in the face, neck, and head.
- Tender lymph nodes under the jaw or around the neck.
- Metallic taste in the mouth.
- Bone recession around the tip of the infected tooth's root.
- Drainage from the root through the side of the tooth into the gums or through the cheek.
How is root canal treatment performed?
Root canal treatment can be easily performed in simple steps by an endodontist. Below is a step-by-step guide to it.
1. Oral examination
A thorough oral examination is performed using X-rays to identify the extent of damage and position of tooth roots. If the infection or decay has yet not reached the tooth roots, the patient is deemed eligible to receive a root canal treatment. If the damage is extensive, the damaged tooth cannot be saved and requires immediate extraction for preventing oral health complications.
The damaged tooth and its surrounding area are anesthetized to avoid discomfort or pain during the root canal treatment. Sedation fights dental anxiety and calms down patients to help them feel relaxed during the procedure.
3. Installation of a gingival dam
A rubber gingival dam is installed in the mouth to isolate the damaged tooth from the rest of the mouth. It prevents saliva from communicating with the tooth during the procedure. Saliva contains bacteria that might interfere with the treatment.
4. Removal of the infected dental pulp
A hole is drilled through the enamel to reach the pulp chamber. The infected blood vessels and nerves are removed using dental files.
5. Cleaning the pulp and the root canals
The empty pulp chamber and the root canals are flushed with antimicrobials and disinfectants to remove any trace of bacteria.
6. Shaping the root canals
Next, the root canals and the pulp chamber are shaped and prepared to receive a dental filling. Guetta Percha is used as the filling material because it is inert and prevents future bacterial infestation. The filling is applied in layers and hardened using a special blue light.
7. Building up the tooth structure
If the damaged tooth has lost most of its structure to the damage, tooth filling is used to build it up.
8. Placing a dental crown
Finally, a custom-designed dental crown is used to encase the treated tooth to restore it to its natural appearance and function. Dental crowns are custom-designed, tooth-shaped caps that are used to cover damaged or weak teeth to restore their shape, size, strength, and appearance. They are permanently cemented in place and cover the entire visible portion of the natural teeth.
At Ayoub Dental we employ the practices of modern dentistry to systematically repair damage and enhance the appearance of your smile. We design a custom plan for each patient to meet their individual requirements. For further doubts and queries, book an appointment with us or visit our office today.