Endodontics And Root Canal Myths
What is Endodontics?
Endodontics is the branch of dentistry dealing with the cause, diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of compromised and infected dental pulp. In the past, diseased and injured teeth were typically removed. Today, we can treat these previously unsalvageable teeth with root canal therapy. Root canal therapy involves removing the nerve, blood vessels and lymph tissue, comprising the dental pulp, and replacing it with suitable filling material. Dentists that specialize in root canal treatment are called Endodontists.
There are several causes for why the pulp tissue can become inflamed and sometimes painful. Some of the common causes of injury are cracked teeth, a deep cavity, filling complications, and traumatic injuries. When teeth are no longer able to stave off infection and remove inflammatory cells the dental pulp reaches a state of irreversible inflammation. This pulpal condition is often associated with tenderness when chewing, lingering pain following hot and cold beverage consumption and dull toothaches. In such instances it is necessary to have a root canal to KEEP YOUR OWN TOOTH. If the pulp tissue is not removed, and the tooth is not extracted, the surrounding tissue can become infected, resulting in pain, swelling, bone loss and systemic infection. Sometimes there is no pain, but without treatment the tooth could abscess, become extremely painful and, due to large amounts of bone loss, the tooth may have to be extracted.
Root Canal Myths
Most people have the common belief that getting a root canal is a very painful procedure. Generally, people will associate the toothache leading up to the root canal with the actual procedure itself. On the contrary, the root canal is what causes the pain to subside completely. When the nerve is removed from the tooth, the patient is completely numb and does not feel this process. After removal, the tooth will not feel temperature, and will generally not be sensitive to any pressure or activity.
• Another common belief is that a root canal refers to having the entire root of the tooth removed.
To put it in perspective, we look at the root of the tooth like the roots of a tree, the soil being the bone and gum tissue surrounding the root. If we removed the roots, what would hold in the tree? Or tooth? We actually only remove the pulp tissue inside the roots of the tooth and the root remains intact, anchoring the tooth within the bone.
• It is common for antibiotics to be prescribed and if the antibiotics clear up infection, why would you need root canal treatment?
Antibiotics travel throughout the body to the site of infection via blood vessels. Antibiotics effectively reduce soft tissue swelling and fevers in surrounding tissues as an intact blood vessel system in bone and gums permits delivery of the medication. However, the blood supply is compromised if not eliminated in inflamed, necrotic and previously endodonticly treated teeth. Thus, antibiotics cannot reach the source of the infection, the infected dental pulp space. WE MUST DEFINITIVELY TREAT THE SOURCE OF THE INFECTION, NOT ONLY THE SYMPTOMS. THEREFORE, WE MUST CLEAN OUT THE INSIDE OF THE TOOTH TO REMOVE THE BACTERIA WHICH IS THE SOURCE OF THE INFECTION.