Sometimes infection can occur between the three hard layers that make up a tooth. This space, called a root canal, is filled with dental pulp which is nerves and blood vessels. Dental pulp feeds the growing tooth from childhood and is not actually needed for adult teeth. If this pulp becomes infected, you may or may not notice signs, such as pain. Regular dental check-ups in a dental clinic may help detect this condition early which improves the chances for success.
If an infection is present in the dental pulp, root canal treatment is indicated in order to save the tooth. There are many advantages to saving your permanent tooth, notably keeping your teeth aligned, preventing jaw problems and gum disease.
Infection can occur because germs enter the tooth via cracks, cavities or accidents to the tooth. Signs include pain, swelling, colour change of the tooth, change in the gum or changes seen only on dental x-ray.
Root canal treatment in our dental clinic will help ease symptoms and usually restore the tooth. This involves protecting the tooth area and freezing. The dentist makes a tiny opening in order to reach the pulp which is removed. The root canal is enlarged, filled and sealed. This procedure has a high rate of success. It usually takes 1 to 2 visits to complete in our dental clinic. In rare cases, a re-treatment is needed, where the process is repeated.
For complex cases, a referral to an endodontist is made to make every attempt to save the tooth. Occasionally, surgery may be needed if the dentist suspects the root may have cracks or needs to remove infection or part of the root. This is done only if regular treatment could not remove the troubled area.
Your tooth may be tender for 1-2 weeks following root canal treatment. If pain persists, please contact our dental clinic and speak to your dentist.
After root canal treatment, your tooth may need further work to make it appear and function like a regular tooth. It may need to have a filling or crown placed to strengthen the tooth. If the tooth has darkened or changed colour, it can be bleached or covered with a veneer. Ongoing regular dental clinic appointments and good oral hygiene continue to be important following treatment.
The only option to root canal is removal of the damaged tooth. This gap would need to be filled with a bridge or implant.
Todays techniques and equipment make this procedure easier than ever in our dental practice. Our goal is to offer the best treatment for you and to help you retain your natural teeth as long as possible. Regular dental appointments will help detect problems early when more options and success rates are higher. All of these procedures can easily be performed at our dental clinic should you require treatment.
Q What is root canal treatment?
A Root canal treatment (also called endodontics) is needed when the blood or nerve supply of the tooth (known as the pulp) is infected through decay or injury.
Q Why is root canal treatment needed?
A If the pulp becomes infected, the infection may spread through the root canal system of the tooth. This may eventually lead to an abscess.
If root canal treatment (RCT) is not carried out, the infection will spread and the tooth may need to be taken out.
Q Does it hurt?
A No. A local anaesthetic is used and it should feel no different to having an ordinary filling done.
Q What does it involve?
A The aim of the treatment is to remove all infection from the root canal. The root is then cleaned and filled to prevent any further infection.
Root canal treatment is a skilled and time-consuming procedure. Most courses of treatment will involve two or more visits to your dentist.
At the first appointment, the infected pulp is removed. Any abscesses, which may be present, can also be drained at this time. The root canal is then cleaned and shaped ready for the filling. A temporary filling is put in and the tooth is left to settle.
The tooth is checked at a later visit and when all the infection has cleared, the tooth is permanently filled.
Q What will my tooth look like after treatment?
A In the past, a root filled tooth would often darken after treatment. However, with modern techniques this does not usually happen. If there is any discolouration, there are several treatments available to restore the natural appearance.
Q What if it happens again?
A Root canal treatment is usually very successful. However, if the infection comes back the treatment can be repeated.
Q Is it expensive?
A You can have root canal treatment on the National Health Service. However, due to the time it takes and the skill needed, many dentists prefer to carry out this treatment privately. Your dentist will be pleased to give you an estimate.
Q What if I dont have the treatment?
A The alternative is to have the tooth out. Once the pulp is destroyed, it cant heal and it is not recommended to leave an infected tooth in the mouth. Although some people would prefer an extraction, it is usually best to keep as many natural teeth as possible.
Q Will the tooth be safe after treatment?
A Yes. However, it is better to restore the tooth with a crown to provide extra support and strength to the tooth.
Q Where can this treatment be carried out?
A Root canal treatment is a routine dental procedure, which your dentist will be happy to do for you.
Q What about aftercare?
A Root-treated teeth should be treated just the same as any other tooth. Remember to clean your teeth at least once a day, preferably with a fluoride toothpaste. Cut down on sugary snacks, and keep them only to mealtimes if possible. See your dentist for regular check-ups.