Endodontics refers to the interior (Endo) of the teeth (Dontia). The dental pulp is the tissue located inside the teeth and it is composed of nerves, blood vessels and specialized cells, among others. It’s main function is to form the teeth (during the formation period of these structures) and secondly to perceive external stimuli.
Endodontics is the dental specialty dedicated to prevent, diagnose and treat the illnesses of the dental pulp and the tissues that surround it. If your tooth’s nerve chamber becomes infected by decay, or damaged by trauma, root canal treatment is often the only way to save your tooth. Inside the hard outer shell of each tooth is a specialized area called the pulp or nerve chamber. The pulp chamber contains a system of blood vessels, lymph vessels, nerves and the pulp, which enter from the bone through the root canals. This system provides nourishment for the cells within the tooth.
In a root canal or endodontic treatment, the dentist removes the damaged or infected pulp and replaces it with a special filler which helps maintain the remaining tooth structure.
Some indications of the need for root canal treatment may be:
- Spontaneous pain or throbbing while biting.
- Sensitivity to hot and cold foods.
- Severe decay or an injury that creates an abscess (infection) in the bone.
Diagram of a healthy tooth
What is root canal treatment?
Your dentist uses root canal treatment to find the cause and then treat problems of the tooth’s soft core (the dental pulp). Years ago, teeth with diseased or injured pulps were removed. Today, root canal treatment has given dentists a safe way of saving teeth.
What is the dental pulp?
The pulp is the soft tissue that contains nerves, blood vessels and connective tissue. It lies within the tooth and extends from the crown of the tooth to the tip of the root in the bone of the jaws. An abscessed (infected) tooth caused by tooth decay.
What happens if the pulp gets injured?
When the pulp is diseased or injured and can’t repair itself, it dies. The most common cause of pulp death is a cracked tooth or a deep cavity. Both of these problems can let germs (bacteria) enter the pulp. Germs can cause an infection inside the tooth. Left without treatment, pus builds up at the root tip, in the jawbone, forming a “Pus–pocket” called an abscess. An abscess can cause damage to the bone around the teeth.
Why does the pulp needs to be removed?
When the infected pulp is not removed, pain and swelling can result. Certain byproducts of the infection can injure your jaw bones. Without treatment, your tooth may have to be removed.
What does treatment involve?
Treatment of dental pulp often involves from one to three visits. During treatment, your general dentist or endodontist (a dentist who specializes in problems of the pulp) removes the diseased pulp. The pulp chamber and root canal(s) of the tooth are then cleaned and sealed.
Here’s how your tooth is saved through treatment:
- First, an opening is made through the crown of the tooth. An opening is made through the crown of the tooth into the pulp chamber.
- The pulp is then removed. The root canal(s) is cleaned and aped to a form that can be filled. The pulp is removed, and the root canals are cleaned, enlarged and aped.
- Medications may be put in the pulp chamber and root canal(s) to help get rid of germs and prevent infection.
- A temporary filling will be placed in the crown opening to protect the tooth between dental visits. Your dentist may leave the tooth open for a few days to drain. You might also be given medicine to help control infection that may have spread beyond the tooth.
The pulp chamber and root canals are filled and sealed. The temporary filling is removed and the pulp chamber and root canal(s) are cleaned and filled. In the final step, a gold or porcelain crown is usually placed over the tooth. If an endodontist performs the treatment, he or she will recommend that you return to your family dentist for this final step. The crown of the tooth is then restored.
How long will the restored tooth last?
Your restored tooth could last a lifetime, if you continue to care for your teeth and gums. However, regular checkups are necessary. As long as the root(s) of a treated tooth are nourished by the tissues around it, your tooth will remain healthy.
Today, people are keeping their teeth longer thanks to advances in dental procedures. At the same time, we are also exposing our teeth to many more years of crack-inducing habits and stress. Although cracked teeth are becoming more and more common, these teeth can often be saved if treated promptly. The cost of this procedure varies between Rs. 1000 to Rs. 2000 depending on case and severity of the disease.
After Root Canal