What is emergency root canal?
Root canal is a type of endodontic treatment used to repair and save a tooth whose pulp is infected or damaged. Emergency root canal treatment procedure involves removal of nerve and pulp tissue, cleaning the cavity, and sealing it.
Dental pulp is area in the tooth below dentin and extends from the crown to the roots. Root canals are the passage way of the nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue which supply the pulp. The canal travel from the root tips into the pulp chamber. The nerve supply to the tooth is not important after the tooth eruption and its only function is hot and cold sensations hence removal of the pulp tissue in the root canal does not affect day to day functions of the tooth.
Damage to the pulp maybe due to deep extensive decay, repeated dental procedures on the tooth, or physical trauma to the face.
Why is the pulp tissue removed?
Emergency root canal treatment is necessary when the pulp is damaged or infected. When the pulp is damaged due to decay or trauma, it is infected by bacteria which multiply rapidly in the pulp due to its vital supply. Infection in the pulp can extend to the tip of the root and form an abscess around the root. Abscess formation can cause bone loss around the roots and swelling around the face. The infection in the pulp can spread to the tissues surrounding the tooth and or at worse to the neck tissues to cause Ludwig’s angina.
What are the signs for emergency root canal treatment??
When symptoms of pulp infection are detected an emergency root canal treatment is required to save the tooth. Some of the signs that one needs a root canal treatment include;
- Dull pain in the tooth while chewing or on tapping the tooth
- Over sensitivity to heat
- Over sensitivity to cold
- Swelling or recurrent pimples on the gums and around the tooth
- Extensive breakage of the tooth
- Discoloration (darkening) of the tooth
- A visit to the dentist for checkups is important as some time the pulp infection can be asymptomatic.
What is the root canal treatment procedure?
The procedure can be done in one or two dental visits. It involves;
- X-ray is taken to determine the extent of damage
- The dentist makes an opening in the crown and removes the pulp tissue
- The created cavity is cleaned to prepare it for filling
- The cavity is filled with a bio compatible material usually a rubber like material known as gutta-percha which is placed with an adhesive cement to ensure complete sealing of the root canal
- The crown is replaced to restore the functions of the tooth
Detailed root canal procedure for your further reading..
Are there any complications of emergency root canal procedure?
Despite root canal treatment having a success rate of 97%, some minor complications can occur. Some infection might be pushed through the tip opening to the surrounding tissues or some remain in the cavity if not cleaned properly. A defective restoration can cause damage to the inner tooth structures. A follow up with the dentist is important to detect and eliminate any complications.
What are the alternatives to emergency root canal treatment?
The only alternative is extracting the tooth and replacing with a bridge or implants. The alternatives are more expensive and require longer treatment time. After all, retaining the natural teeth is the best option.