Root canal treatment

The teeth are anchored into the jaw by roots. The front teeth usually have a single root, while the teeth toward the back of the mouth hold more. Each tooth root contains root canals, and this contains a pulp chamber that houses the living tissue (pulp). These include the nerves and blood vessels, cells and fibres. If the pulp becomes contaminated or is damaged or injured, the tooth will effectively start to die. Once the blood supply has been cut off the tooth is susceptible to infection, which can lead to potential abscesses and tooth pain.

What is root canal treatment?

Root canal treatment (endodontics) is a procedure carried out when the living tissue (pulp) in the tooth is damaged or decayed. The procedure involves removing the decayed tissue from the root canals and sealing them to prevent further infection. Root canal treatment can often be used to save decayed teeth.

Why would I need root canal treatment?

If the pulp tissue of the tooth is infected root canal treatment can stop the spread of infection and abscesses. If the infection is left untreated, it can spread and lead to potential tooth extraction.

What happens during root canal treatment?

Before the procedure X-rays of the tooth are taken, which help to determine the number of roots and identify symptoms of infection. A rubber dam may be placed to keep the teeth dry, which aids us and makes the procedure more relaxing. It also reduces the risk of re-infection of the root canals.

The patient will be given an injection of local anaesthetic to avoid any pain, after which your dentist will drill into the tooth to access the root canals. Narrow filing instruments are used to remove decayed pulp tissue from the tooth and root canals. Irrigation fluid is then used to wash out the tooth and remove any debris, after which the root canals are filled and sealed.

A temporary filling can be used as a cover for the treated tooth, with treatment carried out over one or two sessions.

Once the root canals have been filled, a filling or crown may be placed. If a large amount of tooth structure has gone, a crown or inlay will be fitted to strengthen the tooth and restore the smile aesthetics.

Teeth that have undergone root canal treatment are sometimes darker than other teeth, but they can be bleached to integrate.

Does root canal treatment hurt?

Root canal treatment is not painful with local anaesthetic used to prevent discomfort. We will do all we can to help you feel relaxed, and some patients even fall asleep during treatment.

What are the advantages of root canal treatment?

This is a very effective means of preserving teeth that have been damaged as a result of injury or decay. It is a preferable alternative to losing a tooth. Root canal treatment helps to ease tooth pain and reduces the risk of further infection and abscesses.

Root canal therapy is normally effective, but it can be repeated if infection recurs. It is possible to be referred to a specialist endodontist, which usually happens if the prognosis is poor. The cost of private treatment can be upwards of £250.

What will the tooth be like after the procedure?

A treated tooth can look darker than other teeth, but thanks to advances in technology, this is becoming much less common. If the tooth is darker there are treatments to restore the natural whiteness of the tooth.

What happens if the infection recurs?

Root canal therapy can be repeated if infection recurs, though treatment is normally successful first time.

Is root canal treatment expensive?

Root canal treatment is available on the NHS, but many dental practitioners prefer to perform treatment privately. This is because it is time-consuming and requires a great deal of skill.

What happens if I do not have root canal treatment?

The alternate option to root canal treatment is tooth extraction. If the pulp is infected there is a high risk of further infection, and patients are advised not to leave the tooth without treatment.

Will the tooth be healthy after treatment?

The tooth will be secure after treatment and your dentist will probably advise you to have a crown to strengthen the tooth. This makes it more resistant to damage and improves smile aesthetics.

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