Do you really need a root canal?

Posted on: 26 February 2015

Dental technology has advanced a great deal over the last decade or so. If your tooth pulp is damaged, causing discolouration, pain, sensitivity or discomfort while chewing, a root canal treatment is a great option to getting your tooth pulled.  

Causes of damage to the pulp

A root canal is the treatment of damaged tooth pulp. This is the matter inside each of your teeth which once regulated the growth of the tooth when you were a child. Damage to the tooth pulp can be caused by:

  • Infection
  • A cracked tooth
  • Loose fillings
  • Tooth decay
  • Teeth grinding
  • A blow to a tooth.

All of these causes can either allow infection into the tooth pulp and root canals or allow the pulp to become inflamed. This results in pain and, sometimes, an abscess on the tooth.

If not treated, the infection in the tooth pulp can spread through the rest of the mouth making you seriously ill. If the infection gets into the bone that holds your tooth you may suffer from bone loss around the tooth, and ultimately you will have to lose that tooth and any other affected teeth.

Your dentist or endodonist's (a dentist who specialises in root canal treatment) primary concern is to save your natural teeth and give you to best outcome possible.

How can a root canal help?

During a root canal, you will be given a local anaesthetic and your endodonist will remove the tooth pulp and any surrounding infected tissue. The inside of the tooth and the root canals are cleaned. If the infection remains, you may require medication before the tooth is filled and a crown is fitted.

While healing can be slow for some people and reinfection can occur, the success rates for root canal treatments are high. If in the unlikely case that the tooth does become infected again, the treatment can be repeated or the tooth extracted.

How can implants help?

Implants are artificial tooth roots. Your damaged tooth will be extracted and an implant will be inserted into your jaw bone. An artificial tooth will be attached to the implant. The bone may grow around the implant, essentially helping the implant become part of you and the tooth is cleaned and treated like a natural tooth.

If the infection in your tooth is so severe that extraction is the only treatment that will work, then implants are an excellent direction to take. However, you should always fight to keep your natural teeth. Your own teeth work with your body to keep your mouth healthy, while any artificial tooth will require extra maintenance to keep infection and bacteria away.

If your tooth pulp is damaged, root canal treatment may be your best option to save your natural teeth. Every case is different, so speak to your endodonist about your concerns and options. For more information, check out endodontics such as Inner West Endodontics.