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My tooth had a root canal... Is my tooth dead?

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

My tooth had a root canal... Is my tooth dead?

This is a common question our patients ask us at Aria Dental Vancouver.

A Root Canal therapy consists of Accessing, Cleanning, Shaping, Disinfecting/Sterilizing and Sealing the complexe root canal system of the tooth.

Tooth anatomy
Each tooth consists of a Crown (the part that we see) and roots (parts that are anchored to the bone by a ligament.)
Inside each root there is at least one (sometimes 2 or more) major canal(s). In the canals, there are usually nerves, blood vessels, lymphatics, cells, etc. They all meet up in the pulp chamber.

When a pulp becomes infected or inflammed due to a deep cavity or a deep filling for example, it "self-destructs itself" (Irriversible Pulpitis).

Irriversible Pulpitis is an inflammatory reaction that can cause a dull intense pain that can last anywhere from a couple of minutes to hours. It is one of the major emergencies seen in a dental office. Its classic symptom is a diffuse dull ache (tooth ache) after the consumption of a hot substance. Usually the pain is aleviated by something cold. Patients often are seen sipping on icy water. There are 2 solutions for this pain: root canal or tooth extraction (we prefer to save the tooth whenever possible.)

If nothing is done, the pulp ends up dying, and the pain goes away... Only to come back as an abscess pain: i.e. pain to touch or biting.

The alternative to a root canal is extraction. Leaving an abscessed tooth is usually not an option, as it can be life threatening due to their proximity to the airways and blood circulation to the brain, i.e. there is a risk of dying from a tooth abscess.

In other words, a root canal treatment's purpose is to save the tooth when the pulp is either dying or dead.
The pulp's biggest job and function is to form the tooth and its roots.

Once this job is accomplished, the pulp's remaining function is as an "Alarm system", warning you when a cavity is present and causing pain sensations - like when you eat Ice cream.

It also has a nutritive function to the organic 30% of the dentin structure of the root (Collagen matrix mainly). A root canaled tooth is actually weaker then a tooth with a healthy pulp, and that's part of the reason.

It also protects by forming secondary dentin when injured. That's why a tooth darkens up with time after an impact, as seen here on one of our patients teeth.

Traumatised tooth

If you have any question, comments or would like to book an appointment, don't hesitate to contact us at: http://www.ariadental.com/contact.php

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