Root Canal Treatment

Nerve (pulp) tissue is located within the centre of each tooth and provides sensation to the teeth. However, when this nerve tissue becomes damaged toothache and infection can develop. In this event, a root canal treatment may be indicated. A root canal treatment involves accessing and removing this nerve tissue with special instruments. The root canal is thoroughly cleaned and filled with an inert restorative material. Root canals are minute in
diameter and are quite difficult to access. Therefore, root canal treatment can be demanding and awkward to carry out. In some instances, several appointments may be required.

There is a wide variety in complexity regarding different root canal treatments. Molar teeth are particularly difficult to treat because they have 3 or 4 root canals per tooth. Other features such as curved roots, inaccessible tooth positioning and narrow canals can further complicate matters.

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Issues Related to Root Canal Treatment

Root canal networks within teeth are highly complex. They exist rather like the branches of a tree. The narrowest branches may be impossible to instrument. Therefore, even after a successful root canal treatment, some nerve tissue may remain. Also, it may not be possible to eliminate all bacteria present – particularly if infection has leached out beyond the root tips. Therefore, even with the most accomplished root canal work possible, a successful outcome cannot be guaranteed. In certain cases the root canals may be completely closed-up and are impossible to instrument. In these cases, root canal treatment may not be possible.

Retreatment of teeth that have already had root canal treatment can be complicated by many reasons, which your dentist will discuss with you on an individual basis. There is a risk that infection may develop following root canal treatment. Such infection can occur shortly after (or during) a course of root treatment or in the more distant future. Generally, in the event of infection developing the tooth would require extraction. Root treated teeth are usually already heavily filled or badly decayed. After tooth tissue has been
removed during the root treatment, relatively little of the tooth remains. Consequently, root treated teeth are highly brittle and there is always a risk that they will fracture. A crown similar restoration is required following root canal treatment.

Despite these considerations, root canal treatment may be selected as the treatment of choice. Your dentist may recommend referral to a specialist, which would involve additional cost.