Avoiding Root Canal Problems

Diligent dental care at home and regular check-ups help to avoid invasive dentistry

Dentist with x-rayWe have discussed before why you shouldn’t be afraid of root canal treatment in a previous blog linked here. Like all invasive treatments though, it is much better to avoid the need to have them in the first place if you can. Sometimes, this might be unavoidable, for example if damage is done to the tooth which is caused by an accident. Most dental problems don’t occur quickly though and deterioration of the tooth structure can take some time.

Root canal problems occur, as you would imagine, in the roots of the tooth, and there is usually good opportunity avoid problems like this with appropriate oral care. In today’s Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic blog, we look at some ways that you can reduce the risk and hopefully avoid the need for root canal therapy.

Home care

Maintaining healthy teeth and gums clearly depends on how well you look after them at home. From what you eat to how you clean your teeth plays a very important part in preventing significant dental issues.

Protecting the enamel on the exterior of your teeth is essential as it is this layer that gives protection to the more vulnerable dentin layer below it. Once acids and bacteria reach this part of the tooth, the troubles really begin. It is important then to do all that you can to keep the tooth enamel healthy. There are five essential rules for this.

  1. Avoid eating too many sugary or acidic foods and drinks
  2. Brush your teeth twice a day with a toothpaste that contains fluoride (this strengthens the enamel). Do not eat or drink anything but water after your night time brushing
  3. Use floss to clean the spaces between your teeth. This is where enamel often becomes damaged and decay occurs
  4. Make sure that you have a regular appointment with one of our Canterbury dentists to have your teeth checked
  5. Have your teeth professionally cleaned (scale and polish) with our hygienist

If you follow these five basic guidelines, you will be helping to minimise the risk of significant oral problems, including root canal treatment.

Professional care

However well you look after your teeth at home, there is always the chance of damage occurring through daily use. It is also possible that there might be a spot that you find particularly difficult to keep clean at home and small areas of decay may result.

Hence it is important that our Canterbury team monitor the health of your teeth and gums on a regular basis. Once the enamel has become damaged, it is only a matter of time before decay sets in and, if not treated, not only is this likely to get worse, but the infections may eventually reach the root canals of the teeth.  Decay can also occur if any previous fillings have started to ‘leak’. This can occur especially with traditional amalgam fillings as these tend to shrink a little over time, often allowing small spaces to appear which, in turn, allow bacteria to enter the tooth.

Providing any decay is caught in time, it can usually be restored with a filling, including tooth coloured options for a more natural appearance. If it is allowed to spread, the bacteria can enter the root canals and can become painful as this is where the nerves of the tooth are located.  Although root canal procedures are relatively common, they are more complex to perform compared to regular fillings. The infected pulp within the tooth has to be removed and the repair completed with a special filling and typically, the addition of a crown to restore strength and appearance. The procedure can certainly save a tooth that would otherwise have to be extracted, but it will mean that the tooth is not as strong as a healthy one and, because it lacks sensation, it is easier for it to break if you apply too much pressure to it.

The key message then is to look after your teeth well at home, but also to make sure that you see a dentist every six months. If you have a problem between appointments, and especially if it is causing discomfort or is obvious, such as a breakage, don’t wait until your next regular appointment. Please make an emergency appointment to see us so that we can provide treatment as soon as possible, helping to prevent more extensive treatment later on.

If you need an appointment at Bradley and Partners Dental and Implant Clinic, whether general, an emergency, or to see the hygienist, please call our Canterbury practice on 01227 463529.