How are root canal cysts treated?
Infection is something that can occur after any type of surgical treatment and it should be avoided wherever possible, otherwise the patient’s life could be in serious danger. When harmful bacteria are given access to the inner workings of the human body they can play havoc with the various systems and even the smallest cyst represents a threat to general health – so they have to be treated adequately and in good time. Cysts are a sign of infection beneath the gum line and successful treatment relies on getting rid of the germs that are causing the problem before they can do irreparable damage. Let’s take a look at some of the ways dental surgeons treat abscesses and infection, and also at the possible consequences if the treatment fails at an early stage.
I only have a small root canal cyst; can I do something about it at home?
Firstly, just because the swelling is small doesn’t mean it is nothing to worry about – there’s no need to panic and go straight to the hospital of course, but don’t underestimate the level of infection just because the cyst is not very big or particularly painful. You might be able to get rid of any toothache or discomfort using over-the-counter painkillers, but it’s not a good idea to attempt anything surgical at home, you need to go to the dentist and let them take care of it. Trying to drain a cyst by yourself will only end in disaster and a much more serious level of infection because you won’t have the necessary tools and it’s not likely that your home environment will be as sterile as a dental surgery. Furthermore, simply cutting away the infected swelling or draining it out is not enough to get rid of the infection anyway, the area has to be thoroughly drained and sanitised if healthy regrowth is to begin. Even if you notice the pain disappear after a time, don’t assume that this is a sign of healing; in fact, it suggests that the bacteria have moved deeper into the tissue rather than disappeared without any kind of treatment. If you are having trouble with a cyst – whatever size – make an appointment with the Pearl Dental Clinic today; don’t wait until the condition becomes worse and certainly don’t try to treat yourself at home with anything other than pain relief – it will do more harm than good.
What kind of surgery is required to remove a root canal cyst?
Abscesses that form at the centre of the tooth are called periapical abscesses; they are described as a pocket of toxic fluid that has gathered as the result of infection. Sometimes root canal cysts form when an unsuccessful filling is applied after pulpitis has taken hold at the centre of the tooth, but they can also appear if there has been some sort of dental damage and the structure has been broken or fractured. The dentist must first identify the cyst – it’s likely that they will know which tooth it is in if a root canal therapy has been performed previously, however, whether the tooth has been treated or not, it is common practice to carry out a series of x-rays to ascertain the extent of the damage and to see if the problem has spread to neighbouring teeth.
In order to treat a periapical cyst, the surgeon will first need to cut away a small section of the crown to gain access to the central chamber, this can sometimes be complicated if a large filling has already been fitted into the cavity. A local anaesthetic is necessary at this point, so that the patient doesn’t feel any pain – with this type of surgery, a general anaesthetic is not usually used as this represents a greater risk to the health of the patient. After drilling into the infected tooth, the dentist can then assess the internal damage and decide whether an apicectomy is necessary; this is a process whereby the tip of the root is removed because the root canal failed to get rid of the infection. Apicectomies are less common than root canals, but if the disease has reached a more aggressive stage, then this could be the only way to stop it from spreading further and to avoid an extraction.
If, when the tooth has been opened up, it becomes apparent that the infection has done irreparable damage and draining the cyst will do no good at this point, then the dentist will have no choice but to extract the tooth. If a small periapical swelling is the only problem, a draining and cleaning procedure could be enough to keep the tooth functional and free of infection. Firstly the diseased fluid is drained from the canal and then any remaining particles are scraped from the cavity walls to try and stop the bacteria from taking hold again. Using an antiseptic solution, the surgeon will then rinse out the empty canal to flush away any germs or dead minerals that may still be present inside the tooth.
In some cases the original filling can be re-used – depending on what sort of material it is made from, however, most of the time it is a better idea to fit a new restoration; not just for hygiene purposes, but also because the filling may have been become damaged or misshapen as it was removed from the crown. More often than not, a crown can be reused as it did not come into direct contact with the affected area; it should be cleaned carefully and disinfected before being reapplied. The next stage is to monitor progress and to attend regular check-ups so that the dentist can check for any signs of a relapse or other problems developing.