In this blog Dr Rachel Hall shares about root canal treatment and holistic dentistry.
One of the most contentious and debated topics in holistic dentistry is root canal treatment and whether it should be provided or not.
At Evolve Dental Healing we base our treatment recommendations on your individual needs and wishes and the same applies when we are considering the option of root canal treatment.
Root canal treatment is poorly understood by people outside of dentistry so today I’m going to go through some of the basics for you.
Root canal treatment, also called endodontics, is required when the blood or nerve supply of the tooth (known as the pulp) becomes infected because of decay or injury. You may not feel any pain in the early stages of the infection. In some cases, your tooth could start to look darker, which may mean that the nerve has died or is dying.
Root canal treatment is provided to help prevent you experiencing pain or having infections rather than removing the tooth which is the only other option when a nerve in the tooth dies.
If the pulp (nerve) becomes infected, the infection may spread through the root canal system of the tooth. This may eventually lead to an abscess. An abscess is an inflamed area in which pus collects and can cause swelling of the tissues around the tooth. The symptoms of an abscess can range from a dull ache to severe pain and the tooth may be tender when you bite. If root canal treatment is not carried out, the infection will spread and the tooth may need to be taken out.
Having root canal treatment shouldn’t hurt. Usually, a local anaesthetic is used and it should feel no different to having an ordinary filling. Some tenderness afterwards is common but this should gradually get less over time.
The aim of the treatment is to remove all infection from the root canal. The root is then cleaned and filled to prevent any further infection.
Root canal treatment is a skilled and time-consuming procedure and courses of treatment will involve two or more visits to your dentist.
At the first appointment, the infected pulp is removed, and any abscesses can be drained. The root canal is then cleaned and shaped ready for the filling. A medication and temporary filling is put in and the tooth is left to settle.
The tooth is checked at a later visit and when all the infection has cleared, the tooth is permanently filled.
Occasionally a root-filled tooth can darken after treatment. However, with modern techniques, this does not usually happen. If there is any discolouration, there are several treatments available to restore the natural appearance.
Root canal treatment is usually very successful. However, if the infection comes back, the treatment can sometimes be repeated.
The alternative to root canal treatment is to have the tooth out. Once the pulp (nerve) is destroyed it can’t heal, and it is not recommended to leave an infected tooth in the mouth.
It is usually best to keep as many natural teeth as possible but each case must be based on the condition of the tooth, the health of the patient and the patients’ wishes.
A dead tooth is more brittle so it is often necessary to restore the tooth with a crown (porcelain ‘cap’) to provide extra support and strength to the tooth.
Root canal treatment is a routine dental procedure, which your dentist will be happy to do for you. However, sometimes your dentist may refer you to an endodontist, who is a specialist in this type of treatment if your tooth is more complex.
Once root-treated teeth your tooth should be treated just the same as any other tooth. Remember to clean your teeth for two minutes, twice a day. Cut down on sugary foods and drinks and see your dentist as often as they recommend for regular check-ups.