Endodontics is a specific branch of dentistry that is concerned with the roots and soft matter below the tooth. It mostly involves the treatment of the internal part of the tooth referred to as dental pulp.
The most common procedure in endodontics is root canal treatment. The root of the tooth is hidden beneath the gum line. The part that is visible to the eye is referred to as the crown. The inside of the tooth root is known as the inside channel or “root canal” that holds a pulp of soft tissue, blood vessels and nerves. Tooth decay, periodontal disease, tooth fracture and other problems can mean that bacteria has got into the pulp. When this happens endodontic treatment needs to be undergone to remove the diseased pulp. If this diseased pulp isn’t removed, the tooth may fall out or further infection and inflammation may occur. If the endodontic treatment is successful, the tooth will carry on healthily. Alternative endodontic treatment would be to remove the tooth entirely.
The majority of Endodontic treatments in the United Kingdom are carried out by General Dental Practioners. However, in some cases, the regular dentist will not feel confident in carrying out the treatment themselves. They may feel this way after treatment that has not been successful, narrow and curved root canals and possibly the complex anatomy of molar teeth. An endodontic specialist is a qualified dentist who has received broader training in the treatment of such difficult problems.
There may be some risks to endodontic treatment
Sometimes the tooth has four root canals, when the dentist have only spotted three; if the fourth root canal is not treated, infection may spread on to the bone. The more experienced the dentist is, the less likely this is to occur. It can also depend on the equipment that the dentist is using, the better it is, the less likely they are to miss the fourth canal. It is also essential for the dentist to make sure that the filling they give goes right down into the canal, to fill it up.
The tooth cracks during the procedure
Sometimes, it is possible that the root of the tooth cracks during the procedure. This makes it hard to fill the tooth effectively. The specialist can resolve almost all the instances right away. Patients may experience bruising at the anesthetic injection site and there may also be some temporary swelling.
Breakages of files or other instruments inside of the tooth
Sometimes there may be breakages of files or other instruments inside of the tooth. In some cases, these instruments are not recoverable from the tooth. If this happens, the course of treatment is limited. Another risk of endodontic treatment is that the tooth may fracture after the endodontic treatment before the final restoration is done (e.g. crown or onlay). Sometimes a fracture leaves the tooth un-restorable because of how expensive and time consuming the root canal treatment is. Though highly uncommon, this can be a risk. If the breakage of the instrument occurs during cleaning out the pulp inside the root canal, it can only be removed later by a specialist endodontic dentist.
There have always been the two options of extraction or root canal treatment. In this day and age, it is possible to extract the tooth and replace with an implant instead. Nevertheless, this will to be more costly and the recommendation is to keep one’s own teeth as long as possible.