Stem Cells And Root Canal Treatment

Does new research mean that root canal therapy is a thing of the past?

Some of you may have seen articles in the newspapers claiming that root canal treatment will soon be a thing of the past due to research in the use of stem cells. Essentially, the articles argue that stem cells can be used to rebuild the natural tooth by using a synthetic bio-material that encourages the stem cells in the tooth to self-heal.

As with much research though, there are several stages that this technique will have to go through before it can be widely used. Although this may be frustrating for patients who would prefer to have this treatment, rather than root canal, safety must come first; so it is likely to be a fair while before we see it used rather than the ‘soon’ which is often reported.

But for now….

Naturally, as people involved in professional oral health care, we are always interested in new developments and monitor them closely. We are also realistic though and have to make the best use of what is currently available when a tooth needs to be saved. When the problem is an infection in the canals of the teeth, then a root canal procedure is the most likely course of action.

Unfortunately, this procedure seems to have gained a very unfair reputation, possibly from the days when an abscess could not be detected before the procedure started. This would be, as we are sure you can imagine, be very painful indeed. Thankfully, with the modern x-ray equipment that is available at our Wickford dental clinic, any signs of an abscess will be detected before work starts and treated accordingly. This means that any discomfort during the actual procedure should be minimised.

The procedure

The first thing to note about a root canal procedure is that it will always be performed using a powerful local anaesthetic. This blocks signals of pain being sent from the nerves in that area, to the brain. Only once the tooth is fully numb, can the procedure can begin.

The first step is to remove the top of the tooth to allow access to the root canals where the infected softer materials, which include tiny blood vessels and nerves, are stored. These are removed and the canals then cleaned with an antibacterial solution to ensure that all infection has been removed. The empty canals are then filled, and finally, a dental crown is added to the top of the tooth to give additional strength and restore natural appearance.

This procedure, in effect, leaves a ‘dead’ tooth that has no sensitivity. This is important to understand as it can be easy to bite down too hard on hard objects as it lacks sensation. As such, patients should take care not to put excess pressure on a root canal treated tooth as, although strong enough for regular use, excess force could cause the tooth to break.

For more information about the root canal procedure, or any of our other wide range of dental treatments, please call the Cygnet Dental Practice on 01268 733078.