The tooth consists of three layers. The outer layer is called enamel, the layer underlying the enamel is called the dentin and the innermost layer of the tooth is called the pulp. The pulp is the only living structure in the tooth. When the pulp is infected, a root canal treatment is to be performed to save the tooth.
When a tooth is infected, the infection tends to start on the surface of the tooth, the enamel. As the infection / cavity spreads, it tends to start affecting the dentine and later the pulp. There is no pain when the enamel alone is infected. As the cavity progresses into the dentine, sensitivity or pain starts to develop. When the cavity is not treated at this stage, the cavity further spreads into the pulp. When the cavity is confined to the enamel or dentine region alone, a normal filling can be done. In case the cavity spreads into the pulpal region, there are only two choices left. One is to perform a Rootcanal treatmentand save the structure of the tooth. The other is to go for extraction of the tooth.
The spread of infection into the pulp can be diagnosed only through a radiological examination. A full mouth x ray or a small x ray confined to the infected tooth and surrounding teeth can help confirm the involvement of infection in the pulp.
A root canal treatment is recommended in most cases where the infection of the pulp is minimum and the outcome of the treatment is predicted to be good. During a root canal treatment, the pulpal tissue is fully removed. The pulp canal is then cleaned and is filled with a material called the gutta percha.
The Root canal treatment restores the structure of the tooth but the functional capability of the tooth is compromised. In order to restore the functional capability of the tooth, a crown or a cap needs to be placed on the root canal treated tooth.
Root canal treatment can be done in a single sitting or can be done in multiple sitting. The deciding factor will be the extent to which the infection is spread. The doctor examines the spread of infection and associated complaints such as pain or swelling and recommends accordingly.
Root canal treatments are also performed on injured tooth. When a tooth is broken exposing the pulp root canal treatment can be done. Root canal treatments are also performed on teeth which are discolored due to injury of the tooth.
Root canal treatments are done under the usage of local anesthesia on a dental chair. There is minimum or nil discomfort caused during the treatment. After root canal treatment, the patient can use the tooth for normal functions like biting and chewing. A review is recommended once in a year to ensure that the treated tooth is intact and free from any problems.
Even otherwise, get your dentist check once in 6 months to prevent onset of any dental infections.