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ROOT CANAL WORK

Damage to the dental pulp with its nerve fibres and blood vessels often leads to necrosis, i.e. the tooth becomes non-vital. The damage may be due to caries, trauma, etc.

In a non-vital tooth the pulp disintegrates. Its space becomes filled with bacteria, giving rise to infection that may disseminate into the jaw-bone surrounding the tip of the tooth. This is called osteitis.

The disease process can be painful (pulpitis = acute pulpal inflammation) or run completely without symptoms for many years. In the latter case only X-ray may reveal the infection. Sometimes a fistula is created, enabling repeated drainage of the pus.

For infected teeth there are two alternative treatments:

1. ROOT CANAL WORK

The tooth is opened so that the inflamed tissue in the canals may be drained. Then the canals are filled with antibacterial material i.e. paste of calcium hydroxide. This should then remain for 2-8 weeks (may vary). Then the final root canal treatment is done. For this we use gutta-percha.

In rare cases we combine this treatment with surgery, so called apical root canal work. A section of the apex is cut off, necrotic bone tissue (caused by the infection) surrounding the apex is removed and replaced with biocompatible material. This procedure is performed in rare cases after failure to abolish the infection by conventional root canal work.

2. EXTRACTION

For patients who do not accept root canal work only one alternative remains - extraction of the infected tooth. This may also be necessary if we cannot get rid of the infection through root canal work or in cases with poor prognosis.

AN INFECTED TOOTH IS A HEALTH HAZARD!