WHY DO I NEED ROOT CANAL TREATMENT?
You often come to the dentist with a toothache and in pain and your dentist tells you your tooth needs root canal treatment. Why? The purpose of root canal treatment is to eliminate the bacterial infection inside the tooth and to minimise the risk of future reinfections. Even though it is a long and tedious treatment, each stage of root canal treatment is performed to ensure that the risk of reinfection is as low as possible.
Before we can full appreciate what root canal treatment is and why we need it, we first need to understand that there are different parts to the structure of a tooth
- Enamel – the hard layer that covers the top part of a tooth. The enamel is really hard and dense and protects the dentine and pulp from the external environment.
- Dentine – this is the layer underneath the enamel and the dentine makes up the majority of the tooth structure.
- Pulp – this is the middle or inside of the tooth that contains the nerve and blood supply. NOTE: The root canal are the tunnels inside the roots of the tooth that extend from the pulp
If a decayed or broken tooth is left untreated, bacteria enters the root canal and causes an infection of the nerve. Sometimes the infection of the nerve is so severe that an abscess forms inside the mouth. Other times, you may not even notice any pain or discomfort from a tooth that requires root canal treatment. When your tooth needs root canal treatment, it means that the bacteria from tooth decay has gone so deep into the tooth that the nerves and blood supply in the root canal of the tooth is compromised. There is a bacterial infection in the pulp (nerve and blood supply of tooth).
Once a tooth’s pulp and root canal have been compromised by bacteria, there are only 2 options to manage the tooth
- Remove or extract the tooth
- Perform root canal treatment on the tooth to keep it and save it