Aesthetic Dental of Barbados

What to Know about Root Canals

What to Know about Root Canals

What is a root canal?

A root canal is a procedure used to treat and save a tooth that is severely decayed or infected. During the procedure, the nerve and pulp of the tooth are removed and the inside of the tooth is cleaned and sealed. If this treatment isn’t undertaken, then the tissue surrounding the tooth will become infected and abscesses may form.

A tooth's nerve is not vitally important to a tooth's health and function after the tooth has emerged through the gums. Its only function is sensory -- to provide the sensation of hot or cold. The presence or absence of a nerve will not affect the day-to-day functioning of the tooth.

Why do you need to get a root canal?

When a tooth’s nerve tissue or pulp is damaged, it starts to break down and bacteria begin to multiply in the pulp chamber. The bacteria then can cause an infection which can further lead to an abscessed tooth (which is a pus-filled pocket that forms at the end of the tooth’s roots). As well as an abscess, an infection in the root canal of the tooth can result in:

  • Swelling of the face, neck or head
  • Drainage problems extending outward from the root
  • Loss of bone around the root’s tip

How do you know you need to get a root canal?

Some of the signs that you may need a root canal include:-

  • Continued sensitivity/pain to cold or hot temperatures
  • Severe toothache that is encountered when chewing or pressure is applied to tooth
  • Swelling and sensitivity in nearby gums
  • Discoloration of the tooth
  • A constant or reappearing pimple on gum

Risks associated with having a root canal

The most common risk associated with having a root canal undertaken is infection. Some of the reasons for such infection include:-

  • An undiscovered crack in the tooth’s root
  • Unanticipated number of root canals in tooth
  • Inadequate dental restoration that has encouraged the growth of bacteria into the inner aspects of the tooth and consequently re-contaminated the area.
  • A disintegration of the inner sealing material as time passes; therefore, resulting in the re-contamination of bacteria in the inner aspects of the tooth.

In some cases where this risk is encountered, retreatment is able to successfully save the tooth; but in other instances, endodontic surgery must be undertaken.

What are the alternatives to a root canal?

Unfortunately, the only alternative to having a root canal is to have the tooth extracted and replaced with an implant, bridge or a partial denture so as to prevent adjacent teeth from moving, to restore chewing function and to keep the aesthetics of your smile. These alternatives tend to be more expensive than a root canal and they tend to take more time to be fully completed.

For further information on root canals or its alternatives, it is advisable you contact Aesthetic Dental and ask to speak to a dentist.