If there is one phrase that patients really dread to hear, it is, “you need a root canal treatment.”
Other phrases for basically the same thing are, endodontic, taking out the root, or taking out the nerve.
However the words “you need a root canal treatment.” should be a blessing in disguise because the alternative is an extraction where you lose the tooth forever.
The words root canal treatment is associated with excruciating pain and lengthy appointments. It is true that in the past, root canal work was unpredictable, painful and many lengthy visits were required. Modern day root canal treatment is performed in one visit and is no worse than having say a normal filling. The reasons for this difference is better equipment, techniques and a better understanding about how root canal treatment works and the causes of failure. I was the second dentist in the whole country to start using Rotary Endodontic Files which was a major breakthrough in this kind of treatment. Even when I started using it, other dentists were sceptical and I got criticism for using an endodontic motor. The ironic fact is that these same dentists then started to ask me to teach them in this new technique. Using this technique I have saved thousands of teeth which otherwise would have been extracted.
A root canal treatment is needed when decay has gone so deep that the pulp or nerve inside the tooth has become infected which leads to an abscess forming. The treatment involves removal of the pulp and all of the infection followed by filling in the space with a paste like material which sets hard. This means no further infection can enter or spread and the tooth is saved.
Once the root canal has been completed and x-rays taken to check its seal, the tooth is either built back up with a traditional filling or more commonly a crown to provide the best protection for the tooth.
The main disadvantages of needing a root canal treatment are the costs as it will cost more than a normal filling due to the extra attention involved and the use of extra more expensive equipment and also the materials. However I believe that this cost still makes it much more sense because the alternative such as extractions, dentures, bridge work and implants are more lengthy, costly and uncomfortable.
Harty’s Endodontics in Clinical Practice
Ability of New Obturation Materials to Improve the Seal of the Root Canal System – A Review
Guo-hua Li, DDS, PhD,#1 Li-na Niu, DDS, PhD,#2 Wei Zhang, DDS,3 Mark Olsen, DDS,4 Gustavo De-Deus, DDS, MS, PhD,5 Ashraf A. Eid, BDS, MSc,6 Ji-hua Chen, DDS, PhD,2,¶ David H. Pashley,7 and Franklin R. Tay8,¶
J Endod. 2016 March