Healthy Dentistry

Root Canal Therapy

In Australia thousands of Root Canals are done each day, with the aim of saving dead teeth. However what is not so well known is that some holistic health practitioners believe keeping these dead teeth in the body may not be healthy/the healthiest choice.

Dental abscess

Often the problem starts with an infection in the mouth called a dental abscess. These are caused by bacteria, usually from decay in a tooth which has been left untreated. These infections can extend into the gums, cheek and sometimes even into the jaw bones. An abscess triggers pain when the tissue becomes inflamed due to the pressure building within the infection. Pus may collect at the site of the infection, causing swelling and sometimes a foul taste and odour is noticed. The condition can become progressively more painful and serious even causing nausea, vomiting, fever and chills. Pressure in the neck and on the windpipe can cause difficulty breathing, so it’s important to get treatment early.

Choices

Even though the pain may subside, the tooth should not be left infected in the body as it is unhealthy. There are two options available, extraction of the tooth, or Root Canal Treatment. With an extraction, the tooth is lost forever, and in many cases this can affect how well a patient can chew healthier foods such as raw vegetables and nuts. It can also affect a person’s appearance if the hole left behind is visible in their smile, which can have a negative effect on their confidence and self-esteem.

The case for and against root canals.

If a root canal treatment is well done, and that means the entire length of the tooth canal is thoroughly cleaned and dressed with antiseptic and then it is correctly sealed, then most times the infection or abscess around the tooth will heal. This can be easily seen on an X-ray, where at the beginning there is a shadow around the tooth root in the bone showing bone loss and 12 months later after a good root canal treatment has been done, we see healing. This shows the bone is filling in again, so there is a strong sign of healing and that something very positive has happened. In a healthy individual with a healthy immune system, a well done root canal treatment could last a long time.

The case against is that no matter how well the root canal treatment is done, because of the natural structure of the tooth, which contains many, many extra canals and millions of little tubules or tunnels in the tooth wall none of which can be sterilised and filled, then a tooth will never be completely sterilised or infection-free. Because of this toxins are constantly being released into the body and challenging the immune system and this is why some say it is best to remove a dead tooth or a tooth with a root canal treatment.

The problem with removing the dead tooth or the tooth with the root canal treatment of course is what do we do to replace it? Sometimes people go without a tooth, but if it’s one they need to chew, or if they are left with a dark hole in their smile, it can be important to replace it. There are three choices to replace a missing tooth.

The first is a denture. A denture is loose, it’s not fixed in and it’s usually not as solid to chew on. Dentures need to be removed after every meal to be cleaned and even with good cleaning there is potential for gum inflammation. The second option is a bridge which involves placing a crown on the tooth either side of the gap, with an attached false tooth in the middle. This is stuck on and doesn’t come out, but it affects teeth on either side of the gap. And the third option is an implant which has a false tooth root implanted into the jaw bone. Each of these treatment options leads to more complex treatment, so in our practice we consider each case individually based on many factors including the person’s overall health and immune system.

Root Canal Treatment FAQs

In the past, you would most likely lose a tooth if it had a diseased or injured nerve. Thanks to root canal therapy, however, extraction is no longer required. As dental healthcare professionals, our job is to save your natural tooth wherever possible, and the root canal treatment is able to do just that.

Root canal is unfortunately one of the most misunderstood treatments out there, no thanks to the distorted perception of it being a painful procedure. Quite the opposite, the therapy is designed to offer pain relief while curing the root cause of the infection that has affected the pulp tissue of the tooth.

To foster informed views of Root Canal Therapy, we have included below a list of Frequently Asked Questions on the treatment, procedure and benefits:

  • What is a root canal?

    There are blood vessels, pulp and nerves located in the natural cavity (pulp chamber) found at the centre of every tooth. The pulp is a sensitive tissue that supplies nutrients to the tooth. When the pulp of the tooth is diseased or injured, root canal therapy becomes necessary to extract the diseased pulp and stem the infection. Since the main role of the dental pulp is to help the development of the tooth during its formative years, a tooth can essentially function without its pulp. A fully formed tooth receives its nutrients from the tissues surrounding the root.

  • Why should I get root canal therapy?

    If your tooth pulp has been damaged – either by trauma to the mouth or jaw, tooth injury or a severe decay – root canal treatment is usually recommended to save the tooth so that extraction is not required. If left untreated, the diseased or injured nerve might develop into an abscess around the root tip area, which can damage the bone around the teeth. The infection will cause the bone around your tooth to break down, and loosen the tooth – even causing it to fall off. Obviously, the infection causes pain that is often the main trigger for patients seeking treatment.

  • Is the treatment painful?

    Many people wrongly assume that root canal procedures contribute to the pain that a patient feels during treatment. In reality, the inflamed nerve from the infected tooth pulp is what produces the bulk of the pain. It is typically the root canal condition and not the procedure that is responsible for the pain a patient feels. The treatment itself is really not any more painful than getting a regular filling done. In fact, the root canal therapy is designed to relieve the pain and prevent further damage to the tooth.

    At Healthy Dentistry, we incorporate minimally invasive techniques to provide pain free experiences as far as is possible for our patients – and this also applies to our Root Canal treatment. As a modern practice that utilizes advanced techniques and equipment, all of which are harmonized by our holistic approach to dentistry, we endeavor to make all your treatments safe, predictable and comfortable.

Are you looking for a professional diagnosis and treatment of root canal? Call Healthy Dentistry at (07) 3210 2055.

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