What is a root canal?
A root canal is a treatment prescribed by dentists to help deal with infection that has reached the centre of the tooth. The procedure involves scraping out the pulp tissue that contains the nerve endings and blood vessels, and then filling the empty cavity with either amalgam or composite bonding material. Root canal therapy is fairly common in the UK and the treatment is not considered highly surgical; thousands of people have undergone the procedure without any negative effects.
Most patients who require a root canal will have had some problems with dental decay or trauma, which has left their teeth in a state of disrepair, allowing bacteria to enter the central pulp chamber and attack the tooth from within. Cavities are particularly problematic in this regard because they are not always apparent until the pulp has become severely infected.
What is a root canal cyst?
A cyst is a gathering of fluid at a site of infected tissue; if this occurs after a root canal filling it is generally a sign that the bacteria have not been fully eradicated. Symptoms of a root canal cyst include pain around the filling, throbbing toothache, and swelling of the surrounding gums. The main problem with this type of affliction is that it cannot always be identified with a visual examination and an x-ray is usually necessary to pin point the problem. Furthermore, in the first few days after a root canal, it is fairly common to experience some level of discomfort, so many patients will not be aware that a cyst has developed until they return for a follow-up appointment. This is why it is so important to keep up to date with your dental treatment, the surgeon is trained and qualified to spot the initial signs of infection or disease – both things that need to be dealt with at the earliest possible stage.
Cysts are sometimes referred to as abscesses or boils, but they are basically the same thing; a swelling of toxic fluid that has gathered around an infected area. Cysts that develop after a root canal treatment could also be called a periapical abscess because they affect the centre of the teeth, unlike the periodontal variety, which grows on the surface of the gums.
Small cysts and boils are not something to get worked up about, but if the condition is not treated while it is in the early stages, the problem could become more complicated further down the line; infection can lead to blood poisoning and septicaemia if it is allowed to spread to other areas of the body. If you are worried about your condition following a root canal, the Pearl Dental Clinic can provide you with all the care you need, including a repeat treatment and various other restorative techniques; call today to arrange a consultation.
How should a root canal cyst be treated?
In the majority of cases, more root therapy will be required if a cyst has formed at the centre of the structure, as an infection like this is generally a sign that the initial procedure has failed. If all the bacteria are not flushed away during the first treatment, there is a chance that the problem can return within the following weeks and months.
Although the process for dealing with a root canal cyst is similar to a root canal filling, it is slightly less complicated because the infected pulp has already been removed, so that is one aspect that no longer applies here. Because the fluid has gathered intrinsically, it means the surgeon will have to cut away a section of the enamel or remove the previously fitted filling to gain access to the inner pulp chamber – if a temporary filling was placed originally this could make the process a little bit easier. Once the crown has been opened up, the dentist will drain the fluid from the cyst to get rid of the bacteria, then they need to sanitise the area thoroughly to prevent the problem from developing again. No fluid or tissue particles should be left behind in the empty cavity, and it should be left to dry completely before the filler material is added, otherwise the moisture will interfere with the bonding process.
Once the cyst has been drained, a new filling has to be made to fit the canal, and the dentist must be sure that it is completely air tight once it has been fitted, or food debris and bacteria will multiply under the surface again and attack the minerals.
Are there any alternative treatments to a root canal?
The only real alternative is to have the tooth in question extracted to stop the problem from spreading, but any good dentist will tell you that this comes with its own set of complications. Most dental professionals would opt for a root canal with nine out of ten patients, as it is better to try and save the tooth. It’s easy to see why some people would prefer to just have a tooth taken out if it is causing them pain – and especially if they are having issues with cysts around the surgical site – but unfortunately it’s just not that simple. Removing a tooth puts more strain on the remaining teeth and this could lead to orthodontic problems, as well as damage to their structure as they try to make up for the missing component. This might not seem like a very serious problem to begin with, but it will have further reaching consequences as time passes.
The best thing you can do to avoid needing a root canal is to take care of your teeth adequately and visit the dentist on a regular basis. Of course, not all dental problems are completely avoidable – dental trauma for one – but you can help yourself by looking after your natural teeth and protecting them when they need it, for example, always wear a gum shield when playing contact sports. Even if you do need to have dental surgery, you can improve your chances of a positive outcome by following your dentist’s instructions to the letter and attending follow-up appointments as scheduled.