Root Canal Treatment
When the pulp of a tooth is irreversibly infected, root canal treatment is required to remove the infection and return the tooth to health. The infection is often due to a cavity or fracture that reaches the pulp, but trauma can also cause the tooth nerve to die. When this happens, root canal treatment removes the pulp and cleans the infection from the tooth. Because teeth are predominantly an inorganic hydroxyapatite matrix, even without a nerve they are still usable. However, when removing the nerve, the blood vessels are removed as well, depriving the tooth of its nutrient supply. This causes the tooth to become brittle over time. Therefore, a crown is required on molars and premolars to reinforce the tooth and prevent fracturing during chewing.
While root canals have a bad reputation, they can often be a blessing because the result is pain relief. After achieving profound anesthesia in the affected tooth, the pulp is accessed and systematically removed using a series of small files. The precise length of the tooth pulp is confirmed using an x-ray, and after it is thoroughly cleaned, the canal is sealed and filled with an inert material called gutta percha, which prevents reinfection by preventing bacteria from re-entering the tooth. After root canal treatment, the tooth may be sore for a couple of days as the infected area heals. As stated before, on molars and premolars, a crown is needed to restore function to the tooth. On front teeth, however, sometimes a crown is needed, but other times a filling is sufficient to restore the access cavity in the tooth.