Endodontic services entail performing root canal treatment. Root canals involve removal of the tooth’s nerve. The void area left behind is usually filled with a natural rubber material called gutta percha to seal the tooth. The nerve of a tooth is usually located in the center of each root. If the tooth has multiple roots, the nerve in each root must be located and removed. Similarly, each root must then be sealed with gutta percha to help ensure a successful root canal.
Usually, root canals are performed to treat an abscess or infection in the tooth’s nerve. Antibiotics are often prescribed first to help minimize the inflammation in the nerve and help the healing of the root canal once it has been finished. The tooth’s nerve can become infected due to trauma to the tooth, previous extensive dental treatment or when a cavity penetrates the nerve.
Occasionally, root canals are preventatively done for restorative purposes. If a tooth fractures at the gum line, a root canal may be required. Once the nerve has been removed from the root, a restorative post can be placed into the root to help stabilize a crown which rebuilds this tooth. The nerve and blood supply to the tooth is removed during a root canal. This results in any remaining tooth structure becoming very brittle. A post is not always required to rebuild a root canalled tooth but a crown will cover the remaining fragile tooth structure. This will help prevent fractures in the tooth which may lead to the removal of the tooth.
Root canals are usually successful in treating infection and saving teeth. However, root canals can re-infect and require more treatment. The sooner the infection is treated, the better the prognosis for the root to remain healthy. Several factors play a role in the success of a root canal.
Such factors include:
- A healthy immune system
- Other systemic diseases present such as Diabetes or HIV
- Root fractures
- Failure to restore and properly seal off the root canal
- How long the infection was left untreated (neglected)